Liverpool are hard at work preparing for the start of their preseason fixtures, but behind the scenes the club will also be attempting to negotiate a few more transfers before the serious matches get underway.
The Reds might have missed out on a prime attacking midfield target in Henrikh Mkhitaryan recently, who joined Borussia Dortmund, but latest reports state that Brendan Rodgers has already re-aligned his sights elsewhere: Brazilian attacker Bernard, as per Liverpool Echo, via SportsDirect News.
Bernard: Who is he and how much does he cost?
The easier question first; the report mentioned indicates that Bernard would be around a £15 million signing, though elsewhere, such as Metro, he is rated at around £25 million. That publication also mentions a quote from the Atletico Mineiro president Alexandre Kalil, who states that five clubs have already made bids for Bernard, though no club names are mentioned specifically.
Either way, he's likely to represent a major outlay and go straight into the first XI, wherever he ends up.
Bernard is 20 years old and has thus far played 60 times for his club in the Brasilerao, as well as making 10 appearances in the Copa Libertadores.
An attacking midfielder who can play from the left or centrally, he has hit the headlines this season for his strong creative partnership at club level with Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. Bernard also caught the eye enough to be included in the recent successful FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, where he played twice, taking his total appearances for the Brazil national team at senior level to five.
The qualities he brings
A right-footed, left-sided attacker, Bernard is adept at cutting infield to create danger by committing defenders. He'll run past them with ease if he so chooses, with his dribbling ability his primary weapon. Good movement and the technique to quickly swap passes to open up space is a feature of his game, with his pace able to move him beyond the line of the defence.
The young Brazilian is a hard-working player, strong despite his small stature, but is very much a player who displays his best attributes when heading toward goal.
Liverpool, or whichever club he eventually joins, will be signing an attack-minded talent who can bring goalscoring chances for himself and others to the team, and who is only likely to keep getting better over the coming seasons.
Bernard and Coutinho?
Liverpool, of course, already have themselves a young Brazilian talent.
Philippe Coutinho joined in January of this year and immediately proved himself an exceptional addition, starring over the second half of the season and laying on a raft of chances for his fellow forwards.
Would they be able to play in the same team? Almost certainly, though it would mean that tactically, other areas of the side might have to recompense.
Coutinho brings an element of finesse and vision to the team; deft touches, instant control and drive toward goal, and the execution of passes to pick out willing runners ahead. Bernard would certainly be one of those, providing penetration from the flank and looking to get in between central defenders and full-backs, though he also likes to pick the ball up in deeper areas to utilise space to run into.
On the other hand, that would give Liverpool two relatively lightweight players in attack, plus a striker, who would not be relied upon to go tracking back too much, though pressing at the opposite end of the field would be a requirement.
The Reds would have to look at balancing out that attacking lineup with a Jordan Henderson-esque, or Dirk Kuyt-esque perhaps, option on the opposite flank—without sacrificing any technical quality, of course.
It remains to be seen if this is a serious and realistic target for Liverpool to aim to bring to Anfield this summer, but a pair of Brazilian threats in the final third would certainly give the Kop plenty to look forward to next season.