It’s common in high-level football that players from teams who suffer relegation will switch clubs so they don’t drop down a level themselves, and it’s a practice from which Liverpool have benefitted in recent years.
In 2016 they signed Gini Wijnaldum from Newcastle after the Magpies dropped out of the Premier League, repeating the trick a year later when they recruited Andy Robertson from Hull City.
Both players went on to become stalwarts during the most successful years of Jurgen Klopp’s reign at Anfield, with the Dutch midfielder serving the Reds for five seasons and the Scottish left-back embarking on his seventh campaign on Merseyside in a couple of months’ time.
The demise of teams in England and across Europe could see top-flight clubs cherry-pick their prized assets, and here are seven players from recently relegated sides that Liverpool could potentially consider luring to Anfield and hopefully blowing fans away like the aforementioned duo have done.
The Southampton midfielder is arguably the likeliest player from a relegated side to join the Reds, amid a claim from Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri on Monday that Klopp’s team are in a two-horse race with Chelsea to land the 19-year-old.
He’s been backed to become a ‘top player’ by international teammate Kevin De Bruyne (Play Sports, via Hampshire Live), while only one Liverpool player exceeded his average of 2.1 tackles per game in the Premier League this season (WhoScored).
He could therefore add steel to LFC’s midfield, although it seems from Tavolieri’s update that Stamford Bridge is his most probable destination as things stand.
The Saints defender was loosely linked with Liverpool by Fichajes last autumn, with Klopp believed to be an ‘admirer of his game’ and a potential long-term successor to Virgil van Dijk.
A few weeks ago, transfer insider Dean Jones talked up the possibility of the Reds renewing that interest in the Germany centre-back over the summer (via GIVEMESPORT), in the wake of a campaign in which the 21-year-old made an impression at St Mary’s despite his team’s overall woes.
As highlighted by FBref, Bella-Kotchap can excel both in and out of possession, ranking among the top 4% of positional peers across Europe’s five main leagues for assists (0.1) and interceptions (2.11) per game.
Valued at €22.4m (£19.3m) by Football Transfers, he could be a smart and economical defensive option to contemplate if Klopp wishes to reinforce his centre-back ranks.
The third and final Southampton player on our list, Liverpool are believed to have sent scouts to watch the 28-year-old earlier this year (Football Insider).
Renowned for his set-piece prowess and extraordinary dedication to his profession, the midfielder would seem the archetypal player the Reds should pursue – experienced in the Premier League (343 appearances), able to make his mark (49 top-flight goals), still in the prime of his career and a natural leader.
However, if Klopp is truly interested in signing the Saints skipper, he may need to move quickly, as London duo West Ham and Tottenham are believed to be the current frontrunners for him (Football Insider), with an asking price of £40m being mentioned by the Daily Mail.
Not even the Leicester playmaker’s 10 goals and nine assists were enough to keep his team in the Premier League for a 10th successive season, and it seems highly improbable that a player hoping to nail down a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad will stick around in the Championship.
Liverpool are believed to have contacted the Foxes a couple of months ago about a possible move for the 26-year-old (90min), while more recently Graeme Bailey told TEAMtalk that a potential swoop by the Merseysiders couldn’t be ruled out.
The Midlands club could demand £50m or more for Maddison (90min), which seems reasonable for a player of his age who’s proven his worth in the top flight (43 goals in 163 games) and was said by Graeme Souness earlier this year to be ‘destined for the biggest stage’ (Sky Sports, via Daily Mail).
The hero of Leicester’s 2021 FA Cup triumph wouldn’t even make a dent in Liverpool’s transfer budget, as he’s now a free agent, as relayed by Fabrizio Romano last week.
James Pearce recently told the Walk On Podcast that there’s a ‘possibility’ of the Reds moving for the Belgian, while Steve Kay reported for Football Transfers that Klopp apparently likes the 26-year-old’s ability to cover numerous midfield positions.
LFC could also be able to reasonably offer him an increase on his £35,000-a-week earnings without upsetting their existing wage structure (FBref), and Tielemans has several campaigns of Champions League and Europa League football to his name.
There would appear to be plenty of positives, and no standout negatives, to Liverpool potentially pursuing the Belgium international.
There are no live transfer links involving Liverpool and the Leeds United winger, nor have any come to light in recent months, so in truth it seems highly unlikely that the Reds would go for the 26-year-old.
Nonetheless, if they were to pluck a player from the relegated squad at Elland Road, the Stoke-on-Trent native would seem the likeliest pick.
Harrison is a boyhood Liverpool fan, as he previously stated on Instagram, and played on the right flank on numerous occasions this season (Transfermarkt), so he could be a viable backup option to Mo Salah whenever Klopp wishes to rotate his squad in 2023/24.
However, with other positions taking priority at Anfield this summer, and no apparent interest from the Reds to pursue the 26-year-old, we don’t expect any advances from Jorg Schmadtke and co for the Leeds winger, who seems more probable to resurface in the Premier League elsewhere.
It’s not just the relegated trio in the Premier League that Liverpool could seek to raid this summer – they could also look towards the major divisions from mainland Europe.
The third and final team to drop out of LaLiga on a dramatic season-concluding day last weekend were Real Valladolid, whose teenage right-back was reportedly tracked by Anfield chiefs during the January transfer window (The Athletic).
The 18-year-old became a frequent starter for the Pucelanos during 2022/23 (Transfermarkt), and according to The Athletic, he stood out as a full-back who ‘relies a lot on his technical qualities…his good ball control and his aptitude in attack, while rarely showing weakness in his defensive tasks’.
If Klopp continues to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield next term, there may be an opening for a more natural right-back to come in, although recent transfer links to Benjamin Pavard would suggest that he may be the leading candidate to do so.
Also, would it be wise for Liverpool to invest more than £13m (The Athletic) in a teenage right-back when they already have two in Calvin Ramsay and Conor Bradley?