With the international break upon us, it’s as good a time as any to take stock of the situations at some of the other Champions League clubs with an eye towards surprise players who might become available in the January window from clubs that are likely to be dropping out of the competition.
Keeping in mind Liverpool’s preferred player profile, the potential targets are fairly easy to pick out, but there will be massive competition for many of these prospects given the prominence of their clubs.
Let’s be honest, it would be a big deal if Liverpool were to lay out the cash for any one of these top tier talents in January, but who would your picks be? Let us know in the comments below.
Group Status: 0 pts, eliminated
Potential Targets: Dias (20), Zivkovic (21), Grimaldo (22)
Some of the clubs on this list are still holding onto the thinnest hopes that they can make it through to the knockout rounds. Benfica is not in that category. With zero points in the group, they are as done as you can get at this stage. Still they have some quality youngsters that may catch the eye at Liverpool and we know that Benfica are willing sellers at the right price.
Andrija Zivkovic is one of their young standouts. He has only played the full 90 minutes three times so far, but had an assist in two of those. At Liverpool he could play on either wing, would fit well in a pressing system, but is more a facilitator than a scorer.
Group Status: 3 pts, no chance
Potential Target: Dembele (21)
The obvious target for any club looking to pick the bones of Celtic’s Champions League campaign would be Moussa Dembele. The French striker was a huge hit for the Scottish club last season, but a balky hamstring has limited his impact so far in this campaign. Despite lesser competition up north, the striker’s 32 goals in 2016/17 surely put him on the radar of many top clubs. Even if he’s damaged goods at the moment, Brendan Rodgers will be lucky to hold onto him past the close of the January window.
Group Status: 4 pts, on the brink
Potential Targets: Gelson (22), Carvalho (25)
Sporting had a nightmare draw with Barcelona, Juventus and Olympiakos in their group. They’ve registered a respectable 4 points so far, but they would need wins against Olympiakos and at Camp Nou in order to make it interesting.
The two names of interest on their roster are familiar ones for Liverpool fans. Gelson is a Sterling-esque, water-bug of a player who was mentioned as a potential alternative to Mo Salah in the summer. With Mané having missed time with injury and suspension and Salah racking up heavy minutes it is easy to see where the Portuguese forward would be helpful in a forward rotation.
Carvalho, the bruising midfielder who is linked to Premier League clubs every window is somehow still plying his trade in Lisbon. His signing would represent a philosophical change for Jurgen Klopp, but he certainly would provide protection for Liverpool’s battered centre-backs.
Group Status: 2pts, toast
Potential Targets: Dahoud (21), Pulicic (19), Toljan (23), Isak (18)
Jurgen Klopp’s former club is on the edge of bombing out of their group, unable to keep pace with Spurs and Real Madrid. The array of young talent on display at Dortmund is no secret and they’ll have a fight on their hands to keep them all in the squad through the winter.
Dahoud, Pilicic, Toljan and Isak have all been linked to Liverpool in the past. Some more regularly than others. Pulicic would be the blockbuster, but is probably the last likely. Unless FSG believe having the top American footballer in a generation would bring in alternative revenue streams there’s no way they would pony up the nine-figure sum required to pluck Christian Pulicic out of Germany.
Mamoud Dahoud on the other hand has only made three starts and six appearances overall for Dortmund and at this point one would think he was expecting more. At 21, Dahoud would still be a great addition to Liverpool’s midfield, but a Keita/Dahoud pairing would likely require a physically imposing player in the center of the park to balance things out. Grujic perhaps?
Group Status: 3 pts, nearly impossible
Potential Targets: Hysaj (23), Zielinski (23), Koulibaly (26), Ghoulam (26), Jorginho (25)
Napoli still have some hope of reaching the knockouts, but they have it all still to do at this point. They would need wins against Shaktar and Feyenoord, but Shaktar would also have to lose to a Manchester City side with nothing to gain by that point, while at the same time overcoming a 4 goal advantage in the goal differential column. Possible, but unlikely enough to draw the attention of top European clubs looking to poach top players.
Like Atletico, Napoli have plenty of players in their squad that fit Liverpool’s transfer preferences and Jurgen Klopp’s style of play. Elsie Hysaj has been linked to Liverpool in the past and has now become one of Europe’s top fullbacks. Still only 23, he is still young enough and can provide more solidity at the back than those currently on the books for the Reds.
With Emre Can making plans for an Italian exit, central midfielder Jorginho could be an exciting prospect. Already a mature talent at age 25, Jorginho is often credited as the lynchpin for Napoli’s system. He knits everything together in the middle of the park and can pitch in with goals from distance. Jorginho wouldn’t come cheap, but he would pair nicely with Naby Keita for the next few seasons if Liverpool could get it done.
Group Status: 3 pts, nearly dead
Potential Targets: Potential Targets: Giménez (22), Carrasco (24), Oblak (24), Hernández (21), Partey (24)
Atletico were given a tough draw with Roma and Chelsea and without a miracle they’ll be the odd club out. Their squad is packed with young players that typically get Liverpool’s scouts drooling and happen to be at positions of need. The toughest of the group to acquire would be GK, Jan Oblak. He’s one of the best in the world, and only 24, but would require a club record fee in order to turn heads in Madrid.
The more likely addition, especially for January, would be Uruguayan defender Jose Giménez. The 22 year old has been on the outside looking in, having only made 4 starts so far this season. However, he has bags of potential, and the flexibility to be able to help the Reds in a number of positions, especially if the 442 becomes a persistent formation for Liverpool. In the setup we saw against West Ham could easily slot in at right-back, centre-back or even in defensive midfield.
Group Status: 4 pts, still a chance
Potential Targets: Upamecano (19), Werner (21), Bruma (23)
Currently sitting third in another “group of death,” RB Leipzig would have to get past Porto (6 group points) with matches at Monaco and home against group toppers Besiktas remaining. Porto doesn’t have an easy road either, finishing at Besiktas and home against Monaco.
The odds that Leipzig would sell again to Liverpool after losing their best player to them over the summer are probably slim to none. However, their baby behemoth centre-back, Upamecano is a tempting enough talent that Jurgen Klopp should at least make the phone call.
Group Status: 2pts, eliminated
Potential Targets: Lemar (22), Tielemans (20), Fabinho (24)
Monaco has done a respectable job of reloading after having their squad poached more than any other over the summer. Still, they haven’t been able to hit the ground running in the Champions League and won’t make the cut for the knockout rounds.
Lemar would be such a massive purchase that it is unlikely to happen over the January window and would probably come as part of a revolving door transaction with Phil Coutinho departing at the same time. Tielemans would be a great addition, but he just arrived in Monaco, so again that would be unlikely.
That leaves Fabinho. The physical central midfielder has been a key cog for Monaco, making 20 appearances already. At 24, he’s just coming into his prime, can play a number of positions and would pair well with Henderson in a ‘2.’ We know Monaco is willing to do business and the addition of Fabinho would certainly calm the waters if Emre Can does actually intend to leave on a free.