5 players who've impressed at Euros that Liverpool should target

5 players who've impressed at Euros that Liverpool should target

Gone are the days where clubs would sign players off the back of an eye-catching string of performances at the European Championship, World Cup or Copa America.

El Hadji Diouf and Salif Diao may spring to mind from a Liverpool fan’s perspective, of course, even then, the deals to bring the Senegal pair were already agreed prior to their breakout World Cup in 2002.

Scouting teams are too established, analytics too valuable and recruitment plans too advanced to plump for the flavour of the month, and given their transfer strategy is among the most refined in world football, that is certainly true of Liverpool.

However, there is still value in analysing players’ form at major tournaments, namely their ability to perform in high-pressure situations, and it may be that certain lesser-known talents are unearthed and scouts tasked to monitor them into the following campaign.

More cynically, clubs may also favour those whose reputations have soared at the Euros due to the increased value of a player’s profile in terms of marketing and brand deals.

So who will be on Liverpool’s radar at the Euros? Here are five realistic targets for Jurgen Klopp’s side who have not only excelled at the tournament, but also on a longer-term scale.

Renato Sanches (Portugal, Lille)

It is well-known that Liverpool will require a replacement for Gini Wijnaldum following his free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, and while there a number of options in-house, the club are considering their options.

Among the midfielders being monitored is Lille’s Renato Sanches, who just so happens to have stood out as one of the leading lights in a disappointing defence of Portugal’s Euro crown.

The 23-year-old didn’t begin the tournament as a first-choice pick, but took the place of a burned-out Bruno Fernandes halfway through Portugal’s run and never looked back.

His composure on the ball, ability to dance through challenges and eye for a pass will make him an attractive candidate for Liverpool’s recruitment staff, as will the potential for a low-cost deal due to Lille’s financial woes.

Having restored his reputation following a strange loan spell with Swansea at 20, Sanches now looks to be heading towards his full potential - and a switch to Anfield could help him realise that.

Bukayo Saka (England, Arsenal)

If there is one thing Klopp values when mulling over targets, it’s versatility - it is why James Milner, Fabinho and Diogo Jota are among the most important players within his Liverpool squad, and why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains worth persisting with.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is the poster boy for tactical flexibility, and still only 19, he will no doubt be a favourite among the Reds’ recruitment team despite being part of a rival Premier League side.

In 2020/21 alone, Saka played left wing, right wing, central midfield, left wing-back, right wing-back and left-back for the Gunners, while for England he has shown his quality on both flanks and in a variety of systems.

While Klopp may keep faith in Kostas Tsimikas as backup to Andy Robertson, Saka would arguably be an upgrade on the Greek, while he could also interchange with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah on the wings and compete with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones in midfield.

It may be difficult to picture Saka leaving Arsenal for Liverpool - particularly after he signed a new long-term deal with the north London club last summer - but as his esteem grows with England, the teenager could do with a better backdrop to showcase his talents week in, week out.

Donyell Malen (Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven)

According to sources in the Netherlands, Liverpool are among a host of clubs weighing up a move for PSV Eindhoven forward Donyell Malen, with manager Roger Schmidt admitting that he and right-back Denzel Dumfries are “likely to leave” this summer.

With Frank de Boer’s side now out of the Euros, the 22-year-old could look to resolve his future, and the Reds should certainly be in the picture if he does opt to leave the Philips Stadion ahead of 2021/22.

Malen is a quick, flexible forward who wears the No. 9 for PSV but can play across the attacking line, and is capable of both scoring and assisting, setting up goals against Austria and North Macedonia at the Euros to complement his 27 goals and 10 assists in 45 games for his club last season.

As Roberto Firmino shows signs of age and overuse, this may be the right time to bring in genuine competition for the Brazilian and pave the way for Divock Origi’s exit, and Malen is certainly a viable candidate.

PSV’s willingness to sell - or, perhaps more fittingly, cash in - should open the door for Liverpool, and as he edges towards a first-choice role with the Netherlands, Anfield could give Malen the platform to thrive.

Domenico Berardi (Italy, Sassuolo)

It was an unexpected call, but Domenico Berardi rewarded Roberto Mancini’s faith as Italy began a flawless group stage with a 3-0 thrashing of Turkey in Rome.

The Sassuolo forward forced Merih Demiral’s own goal for the tournament’s very first strike, before following that up with another assist in the 3-0 win over Switzerland five days later.

Keeping Federico Chiesa on the bench is an impressive feat, and Berardi has certainly enhanced his reputation at the tournament, after back-to-back exceptional campaigns in Serie A that saw him score 31 and assist 18 over 61 games in 2019/20 and 2020/21.

It serves as vindication for a player who has endured an up-and-down career after early hopes of a move to Juventus as part of a co-ownership deal with his current club, and now may be the summer that Berardi eventually seals his big transfer.

Back in 2019, the right winger admitted that “being able to choose, I would play in Liverpool,” and with a spot possibly opening up in Klopp’s squad as Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino are made available, it could lead to a dream switch.

Alexander Isak (Sweden, Real Sociedad)

If Erling Haaland is the most-coveted centre-forward in world football, and therefore unattainable to all but the very richest clubs, Alexander Isak may just be the next-best thing.

Isak is a battering ram of a striker who not only operates as a target man but also an invaluable outlet in the buildup, while his intelligent movement and tendency to take players on makes him a handful for opposition centre-backs.

The Swede would be a much different option to Firmino, but perhaps that is exactly what Liverpool need, rather than looking to identify a like-for-like alternative to one of the most unique strikers in world football.

Coaxing him from Real Sociedad may be a difficult task, but the presence of a buy-back clause in the Spanish club’s deal with Borussia Dortmund could offer a useful workaround for the Reds.

Isak is built for Premier League football, and given Haaland is unlikely to be making the move to Anfield, the 21-year-old would be an excellent plan B who could be built around for the next decade to come.

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