Liverpool are once again being linked with Cristian Tello, the 22-year-old forward currently plying his trade with Catalan giants Barcelona, and, according to the latest reports, the youngster could well be on his way to Anfield this summer, should La Blaugrana's appeal of their transfer ban be successful.
The Mirror's Neil Rowlands reports Barcelona released a statement via their own website, saying they will indeed appeal their transfer ban following alleged violations against FIFA's rules concerning the transfers of minors, and John Cross revealed in the same paper that the club is still in contact with the Reds regarding Tello.
According to Cross, Tello would be valued at about £12 million, a relative bargain for a graduate of La Masia that has been on the club's radar since 2012.
Yet despite such a reportedly low fee, Brendan Rodgers and company would be better off looking elsewhere this summer.
Tello has the versatility to play all over the attacking third, similar to a number of youngsters already on Liverpool's squad, like Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho.
The Spaniard has the technique, vision and athletic ability required to be effective as a winger and as a pure forward, but he doesn't particularly shine at either position. It's his ability to alternate between both that makes him valuable in Barcelona's system.
But as a winger/forward-hybrid, Tello wouldn't exactly fill a need for Rodgers, with the aforementioned Sterling and Coutinho already filling said role.
Of course, buying for need only gets you so far. Arsenal seemingly didn't have a need for a creative midfielder when they acquired Mesut Ozil at the start of the season, but the club certainly doesn't regret pulling the trigger on the German international. Exceptional value will trump need every time.
Should Liverpool try to land Cristian Tello?
Tello, however, doesn't present the club with exceptional value. There's a reason the youngster could be had for as little as £12 million, in the same way that there's a reason Tello hasn't been able to secure regular playing time.
Sure, Barcelona have remarkable depth in the attacking third, but a team as good at talent development as La Blaugrana would surely find a way to gift him more minutes if they felt like he was worth it.
During the last transfer window, Tello called out the team's management, asking for more minutes and claiming his efforts on the training ground should have been sufficient to convince the coaching staff, per The Express' Ben Jefferson:
I am content at Barcelona but we still have not advanced in the negotiation deal.
It is normal that I desire more minutes in the team. I want to profit on my opportunities this season.
I do not need to demonstrate anything on the pitch because the coach knows how I am at this club.
Four months later, those extra minutes are nowhere to be found. Per WhoScored.com, Tello has made just two starts all season, and 18 further appearances as a substitute have only netted him two goals. Barcastuff, meanwhile, know the club will be listening to offers for the forward:
Barcelona plan to sell Alves, Afellay, Cuenca, and Dos Santos. Also willing to listen to offers for Mascherano, Alexis, Pedro, Tello [sport]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) April 18, 2014
Barcelona will appeal, as they should, but as of right now, it seems the best the club could hope for is to delay the start of the eventual ban. Even the Blaugrana themselves don't expect the FIFA committee to suspend the ban, per Barcastuff:
Barcelona don't expect Fifa's Appeal Committee to suspend the transfer ban. Next appeal will be at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [md]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) April 15, 2014
Yet faced with the possibility of not being able to bring in any new players for the next two transfer windows, the club will still entertain offers for a young depth player like Tello. That right there tells you all you need to know about how his current club views their forward.
Tello wouldn't fill a need for the Reds, and judging by his lack of production (in limited time, to be fair to the player), and the fact his club would be willing to part with him despite the distinct possibility of not finding a replacement for a full year, he wouldn't represent the kind of upgrade that would justify making the move.
Liverpool would be better off looking for players in other areas of the pitch, like wing-backs or depth players in the centre of the defence, or chasing prospects offering more long-term upside than Tello.