Rubbishing the Rumour: Kyriakos Papadopoulos to Liverpool
Speculation has been rife all summer long that Liverpool are on the verge of buying highly rated Schalke 04 centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos; however, the various stories do not quite add up for a number of reasons.
Now, what is not in doubt is that Reds head coach Brendan Rodgers is still keen on bringing one more defender to Anfield before the transfer window slams shut for business on August 31, with experienced Ivory Coast international Kolo Toure having already been snapped up from Manchester City at the start of this month.
In fact, Carl Markham of The Independent reports that the Northern Irishman even confirmed as much last week, with Rodgers saying that he wanted to sign at least “another defender” ahead of the kickoff to the new season following the retirement of veteran centre-back Jamie Carragher last May.
However, contrary to a whole host of reports doing the rounds in the English press in recent months, that defender is not going to be Greece international Papadopoulos, despite some initial interest in the 21-year-old from Rodgers and his scouting team earlier this year.
This is a player, do not forget, who is still recuperating from the operation that he underwent last December to help cure a serious, long-standing problem in his left knee, with Papadopoulos yet to play a competitive fixture this year.
In light of this, the Reds baulked at the suggestion of meeting the Bundesliga outfit’s £20 million asking price for their star man back in March, and they have instead shifted their defensive focus elsewhere, with Ajax skipper Toby Alderweireld now on Rodgers’ radar according to the Daily Star's Gary Jones.
Rodgers already has both Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel as his his established first-choice central-defensive partnership at Anfield next season, with new arrival Toure having been signed this summer to add vital experience to the squad in the Carragher mould.
However, with Sebastian Coates now expected to quit the Reds before the 2013/14 campaign gets underway, the new defender that Rodgers will be looking to add to the roster will be a like-for-like replacement for the young, up-and-coming Uruguay international, as opposed to a big-money arrival who would expect to go straight into the Liverpool first team.
And this is before one even begins to delve into the Greek’s actual playing style and characteristics, which reveal a centre-back who committed on average 2.13 fouls per game in the Bundesliga last season, before he underwent campaign-ending knee surgery that is, a figure far higher than most of his fellow defenders in Germany.
Meanwhile Stavros Drakoularakos, a journalist with Sport 24, Greece's largest sport website, says that Papadopoulos "definitely needs to work on his passing,” which is bound to raise a few eyebrows for a £20 million-rated central defender, as would his now legendary volcanic temper, which befits someone variously described as being both “crazy” and “mad” by those who know him best.
So the idea of Rodgers blowing the majority of his summer transfer budget on a young centre-back with question marks currently hanging over his fitness, temperament and abilities to be a ball-playing defender, as is the manager’s want, suddenly seem more than just a little fanciful, to say the very least.
And when the oft-reported transfer is viewed from the perspective of both Papadopoulos and his employers as well, it raises various other doubts as to its validity, especially when one takes into consideration that many of Europe’s top clubs have been closely monitoring the Greek for some time now, including the likes of continental heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan.
For one thing, the player’s agent confirmed to Bild only recently that his client was more than happy at Schalke and had no intention whatsoever of moving away from Gelsenkirchen just yet, least of all to a mid-table Premier League team when many of Europe’s superpowers were known to be tracking the defender.
"I can tell you we have no interest in a transfer away from Schalke at this point in time," Paul Koutsoliakos told the German sports daily.
"Kyriakos is happy being at this club. Kyriakos is fully focused on being fit when Schalke start pre-season training in the next few months. He looks likely to be ready for it."
And the reason for this is that Schalke can once again offer Papadopoulos Champions League football next season, something Rodgers and Co. most certainly are not able to do, even if they had been prepared to meet the Bundesliga outfit’s hefty asking price.
Will Papadopoulos sign for Liverpool this summer?
As for the German giants themselves, they are understood to have no interest at all in allowing the man they signed from Olympiacos in June 2010 to join another club this summer, especially after helping Papadopoulos on the long road back to full fitness this year, while perhaps more importantly they also have no great financial need to offload him either.
All of which, therefore, adds up to a long-running transfer rumour with little actual substance behind it, with Liverpool’s reported interest in Belgium international Alderweireld far more likely to result in a move to Anfield this summer than that of Papadopoulos.
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