Champion League

Mbappe Hincapie Wirtz Tapsoba Gray

This article was originally published on the Daily Briefing, a subscription service. If you would like to receive Neil Jones’ exclusive articles via email ahead of publication on, please sign-up for the service at

Liverpool’s search for a new sporting director is arguably as intriguing as their pursuit of a new manager. If and when an appointment is made, they will be the fourth person to have held that role in the space of two years.

For a long time, we have talked about the ‘stability’ of the Reds’ club structure, and for many years that revolved around the key trio of Klopp, Michael Edwards and Mike Gordon – the manager, the sporting director and the most hands-on member of the ownership group.

By June, only Gordon will remain, and it is fascinating that once news of Klopp’s imminent departure emerged last month, Liverpool made contact with Edwards over a potential return to Anfield. He turned it down, and I am intrigued to see what the Reds’ next move is.

I would argue that, much like the manager situation, there is no ‘perfect’ fit for the role, with any appointment carrying a degree of risk and uncertainty. The likes of Tim Steidten (West Ham United), Markus Krosche (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ricky Massara (ex-AC Milan) and Florent Ghisolfi (OGC Nice) all have interesting profiles, but all would be working to a new brief were they to arrive at Anfield.

And don’t forget, many of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals are busy assembling new recruitment teams. Manchester United are on a hiring spree, Chelsea too. Newcastle United will need a new director of football and Manchester City need a new chief operating officer. The market for ‘football operations’ staff has rarely been so busy, and that could well make Liverpool’s task even harder.

I wonder whether they will eventually find themselves back at Edwards’ door, making him an offer he can’t refuse. Because if there is no such thing as a perfect fit, he might be the next best thing.

There will be a lot of top clubs looking at this Bayer Leverkusen squad and seeing opportunities to land players of big potential in the summer.

Liverpool are no different. They are known admirers of Piero Hincapie, and made tentative enquiries about the Ecuadorian last summer, and their scouts have, like just about every other club in Europe, been aware of Florian Wirtz for a number of years.

Those two, in particular, are interesting cases, given their age and the high ceilings they possess. Hincapie would fit the bill as a left-sided defender – an area Liverpool have been actively looking – while Wirtz’s versatility and creativity, as well as the fact he doesn’t turn 21 until May, mark him out as one of the best young attackers in Europe.

I think either would improve Liverpool’s squad in the summer, and I know that another Leverkusen player, Edmond Tapsoba, was liked by the Reds in the past. At 25, his best years are still very much ahead of him.

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that Kylian Mbappe is heading to Real Madrid. I know there have been a few reports linking the PSG superstar with Liverpool, but as far as I’m concerned that was never a realistic option. He hasn’t been negotiating with anyone but Real Madrid.

In fact, I was in a media briefing last week in which Jurgen Klopp was asked about the chances of Mbappe moving to Anfield, and the Reds boss basically laughed at the question.

“Obviously I am not involved in that,” Klopp said, “but I can tell you that I would be surprised!”

He then went on to add that: “It would be tricky for most of the top clubs I know [due to] wages, signing fee,” and then joked that it is easy for journalists to ask such questions.

I guess the biggest surprise with regards to this story is that it has taken Mbappe so long to end up at the Bernabeu. One thing is for sure, Real look like they are going to be a formidable force in the coming seasons…

When you are 17 and playing at the level Archie Gray has been playing at, and on such a consistent basis, you are bound to attract attention, and Liverpool have been linked once again with the Leeds wonderkid.

But Liverpool sources were pretty dismissive when stories appeared earlier this season suggesting the Reds were ready to spend big money on the teenager, and while he is undoubtedly a big talent, it is hard to see too much logic in such a deal at present.

The performances of Conor Bradley, 20, have been hugely impressive, and Liverpool also have an England international, Joe Gomez, capable of providing high-quality cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.

Gray, like Alexander-Arnold, is capable of playing in midfield too, but Liverpool have Dominik Szoboszlai (22), Harvey Elliott (20), Curtis Jones (23), Alexis Mac Allister (25) and Ryan Gravenberch (21), without even considering the likes of Stefan Bajcetic and Bobby Clark (both 19) or Tyler Morton (21) who is also thriving in the Championship with Hull City.

With that in mind, it would feel like an unusual move for Liverpool to commit to such a big outlay for another gifted youngster.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

Champion League

West Ham target 23-year-old Harry Souttar

West Ham are reportedly all in favour of Stoke Metropolis centre again, Harry Souttar.  The towering Australian centre again has
Champion League

Palace preparing £38m double offer for Alvarez and Johnson

Crystal Palace are set to make provides for Ajax star Edson Alvarez and Nottingham Forest prodigy Brennan Johnson in the