Klopp 'not surprised' by Elliott display for Liverpool in win
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The departure of Georginio Wijnaldum this summer has left many questioning whether Liverpool have the depth in midfield to mount a strong title challenge. They failed to recruit a replacement in the transfer window and are now relying on some previous underperformers to step up.
Wijnaldum joined Paris Saint-Germain in June for free after not signing a contract extension with the Reds, he joined the Ligue One club on a three-year contract.
The Netherlands international made 179 league appearances for Liverpool during a five-year spell at the club.
The 30-year-old won the Premier League, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup whilst playing in Merseyside.
Wijnaldum was a crucial component of Jurgen Klopp’s side, with his willingness to work hard and be a presence in both boxes making him one of the first names on the team sheet – in Liverpool’s title-winning season he made 37 appearances.
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Now without Wijnaldum, there is a feeling that Klopp needs one more proven midfielder to be able to compete with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Klopp has options in his squad, but none are as well-rounded as Wijnaldum or have a similar work rate.
However, an opportunity may have arisen for Liverpool to acquire the services of a direct replacement, Franck Kessie of AC Milan.
According to Italian journalist Carlo Laudisa of Gazzetta dello Sport, the Ivorian midfielder has turned down a new contract in Milan as is set to become a free agent in 2022.
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Kessie has made 143 league appearances for Rossoneri, scoring 29 times.
The 24-year-old is seen as one of the brightest talents in the Serie A, and with his contract expiring then he will be available for far less than the £49.5m he is believed to be worth.
Milan offered the midfielder a contract worth €6.5m (£5.5m) per year, however, he is looking for a deal closer to the €8m (£6.8m) mark.
Although Liverpool are reportedly short of funds, shown by only making one purchase this summer (Ibrahima Konate, £36.5m), they may be able to prepare an offer for Kessie for when the January transfer window opens.
Klopp has made it clear previously that he doesn’t have a significant pot of money to work with, however, the sales of Xherdan Shaqiri (£5m) and Harry Wilson (£12m), as well as several players being loaned out, could open up some budget
Currently, Klopp is relying on Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to slot into the three-man midfield seamlessly alongside Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
In the Reds’ last two games, Harvey Elliott has also played in the centre of the park, being utilised as an attacking midfielder where he has impressed.
The former Fulham forward signed a long-term contract with the Reds in July and, based on recent events, Klopp obviously has high hopes for the Englishman.
On the other hand, Keita and Thiago have both underwhelmed since coming to Anfield from their Bundesliga sides.
Neither have fulfilled their price tags, Thiago was worth £27m and Liverpool paid RB Leipzig £54m for Keita, and will need to improve markedly or risk being put up for sale to fund replacements.
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