Liverpool’s search for a new central midfielder to replace Georginio Wijnaldum may well have been aided by Arsenal’s decision to pursue a move for Albert Sambi Lokonga of Anderlecht. The Gunners are also on the lookout for a shrewd operator in the middle of the park and are reportedly closing in on the 21-year-old, who is said to have agreed personal terms with the north London club.
Club director Edu has been tasked with leading a large-scale overhaul at the Emirates Stadium this summer as Mikel Arteta looks to build on last season’s disappointing eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.
Their decision to address the club’s midfield problem as the very first item on the agenda could spell good news for Liverpool’s own pursuit of a box-to-box operator capable of filling Wijnaldum’s boots.
The Reds have been linked with a move for Brighton and Hove Albion’s Yves Bissouma, who is said to be on Jurgen Klopp’s radar ahead of the new season.
The 24-year-old has previously been tipped to join Arsenal, but with Lokonga poised to rubber-stamp a switch to north London instead, Liverpool could soon find themselves in a position to pounce.
Reports have claimed that the Merseyside outfit’s interest in Bissouma was snubbed by the player himself, with Arsenal understood to be his preferred destination.
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However, it seems unlikely that the Gunners will go in for the Brighton midfielder once Lokonga’s capture has been sealed.
This could open the door for Liverpool to convince Bissouma that a move to Anfield would be in his best interests.
Arsenal’s approach for Lokonga will also ensure that the Reds have plenty of time to do so, as they will need to sell players before buying, according to The Athletic.
Technical director Michael Edwards has already completed the signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, but Liverpool are now reportedly looking to offload a number of fringe players in order to fund new arrivals.
The likes of Harry Wilson, Marko Gruijc, Loris Karius and Ben Woodburn could all be shown the exit door this summer and it will take some time for the club to raise enough money to bankroll a big-money approach for Bissouma.
Liverpool could struggle to tempt other teams into buying their cast-offs as a result of Euro 2020 putting much of this window’s early business on hold.
With Arsenal opting to chase Lokonga instead of Bissouma, Liverpool will no longer be forced to mitigate the threat posed by the Gunners and can safely wait to sell players without the risk of being pipped to the Mali international’s signature in the meantime.
The Reds would be set to reap the rewards of holding out for the playmaker, who appears to be more than capable of thriving under Klopp’s guidance.
Bissouma has turned plenty of heads with his ability to beat a high press and a cultured range of passing, two essential qualities that stand him in good stead to succeed in Liverpool’s midfield trio.
It remains to be seen whether the five-time Champions League winners will eventually act on their reported interest in Brighton’s prized asset, but Arsenal’s decision to switch their focus to Lokonga may have provided Edwards and Klopp with a golden opportunity to push through a deal.
Liverpool will need to find an effective replacement for Wijnaldum if they are serious about mounting a renewed Premier League title challenge next season, and it seems as though Bissouma could well be the answer in the absence of their former Dutch midfielder.