Liverpool desperately need to strengthen their defence and have been chasing Southampton centre half Virgil van Dijk all summer. He’s the player Jürgen Klopp has identified as the best option to upgrade the backline. There’s just one tiny problem: Southampton really don’t want to sell.
Despite Liverpool’s willingness to push out a transfer fee in the neighbourhood of £60M, executives at the south coast club remain adamant Van Dijk will not be going anywhere this summer. If that is in fact the case, a perfect Plan B may have just dropped into Liverpool’s laps by way of Schalke.
In recent weeks, Benedikt Höwedes appears to have fallen out completely with new coach Domenico Tedesco. The 29-year-old German who was a star at the last World Cup has since been stripped of his captaincy and been transfer listed by Schalke, who say that €20M will win his signature.
Regardless of the player’s age and that he may only have a few seasons left as a starter at the highest level, it’s a bargain fee for a player of Höwedes’ quality, and Bild claim the player’s agent has reached out to a handful of English clubs. It’s hard to imagine Liverpool wouldn’t have been one of them.
Not only will Klopp be well aware of Höwedes’ quality from his time in Germany, but he will also know that the centre half was Joël Matip’s defensive partner for seven seasons while both players were starring for the Bundesliga side, with both player’s graduates of Schalke’s youth team.
If Höwedes’ agent was indeed the one reaching out, it’s almost unimaginable that Liverpool wouldn’t have been one of the clubs he targeted. And it’s safe to say Höwedes is a player Jürgen Klopp knows. Now we wait to find out if all of that turns into a bid in the coming days.