Liverpool’s latest transfer speculation has seen the club linked heavily with a move for Schalke’s 22-year-old playmaker Lewis Holtby.
“Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of Schalke youngster Lewis Holtby with a view to securing the 22-year-old on a free transfer next summer.
Goal.com understands that the Reds are keen to talk to Holtby in January after having reignited their interest in the in-form Bundesliga midfielder, whose father is from Merseyside.”
Holtby has been in impressive form for the German side this term, amassing three goals and three assists from his eight league appearances thus far, and he also featured in his side’s assured 2-0 victory over Liverpool’s domestic rivals Arsenal in the Champions League this past week.
But how much truth lies behind this rumor?
Is it simply a knee-jerk reaction to Holtby’s fine early-season fortunes, coupled with Liverpool’s stuttering start to the campaign? Or is the alleged transfer one of genuine feasibility and likeliness?
This article assesses the likelihood of Lewis Holtby signing for Liverpool by investigating both sides of the story. First, let’s take a look at the factors that would suggest a potential move could indeed come to fruition.
The Case For a Potential Move
Liverpool have developed something of a new recruitment policy in recent years, summed up by co-owner John Henry in an open letter to Liverpool fans.
Henry’s statement highlights a reluctance to sign “expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years” as well as a general preference towards signing younger stars with potential for development through the club's “increasingly impressive coaching team.”
In the case of Lewis Hotlby, the German would seem to fit this bill perfectly.
With age on his side, he could easily represent the club at the highest level for the next 10-15 years, while a speculated price tag of £5.5 million that Goal.com alluded to would represent value for money in today’s inflated version of the game.
This slightly cut-price figure is, of course, a result of the imminent expiration of the German’s contract.
Holtby will be able to leave Schalke for absolutely nothing in the summer, therefore, even if Liverpool were to opt against recruiting the midfielder in January, a summer move would be vastly cheaper and thus perfectly imaginable.
So from a financial perspective, the transfer is certainly viable, whilst it also appears to be in keeping with the club’s longer-term transfer strategy.
Add to that the player’s abundance of talent, and the move would appear very much feasible as far as the two clubs are concerned.
The Case Against a Potential Move
One area in which issues could arise, however, is the interests of the player himself.
Holtby is, of course, of Merseyside descent, as his father Chris being a former English soldier, born and bred in the city of Liverpool.
But it is a well-known fact that his allegiances in fact lies with Liverpool’s fierce city rivals, Everton.
And in refusing to rule out a move to the Premier League recently, Holtby also acknowledged that the Toffees would be one of his preferred destinations, should he depart for English soil.
Though the player may be professional enough to move past such family history in order to further his career, there may be many a Liverpool fan with which this news may not sit too well.
Signing a self-confessed Everton supporter could potentially get Holtby’s Liverpool career off to the worst of starts before it has even begun.
Furthermore, there remains an issue regarding his role within the team.
Naturally an attacking midfielder, his abilities would be best employed in a role similar to that of club captain Steven Gerrard.
And with Brendan Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3 formation adopting one attacking midfielder alongside two more defensive minded players, Holtby may be forced into a wider or more withdrawn position, in which he would arguably be somewhat less effective.
Rodgers may have a plan to accommodate him, but at present it would appear that Holtby’s potential role in the team is already being filled by the monumental presence of Steven Gerrard.
So while the transfer may be viable from the club’s point of view, issues with the preferences of both the player and the manager could combine to scupper a possible January move to Anfield.
But if the Liverpool fans were willing to give Holtby a chance, and as long as Rodgers has an alternate method of utilising the midfielder’s vast talent, a move may be more forthcoming.
Holtby’s impressive form will of course attract interest from other parties, but if Liverpool are determined enough to push ahead with the signing, then they most definitely have the financial capabilities to see the move materialise.
Further developments could alter the current situation, though, so keep an eye on this one between now and January 1.
But until then, feel free to comment below with your thoughts on Lewis Holtby and his potential arrival, as well any issues discussed in this article.