The latest reports from Germany have claimed Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is working to cut a club-record deal for former Borussia Dortmund protege Mario Gotze. Plus, Anderlecht youngster Dennis Praet is on the Reds' wish list as well.
German daily Bild reported Klopp is seeking a reunion with his old apprentice, but Liverpool will have to pay a record fee of €50 million (£37.2 million) if they're to see the pair brought back together (h/t Mirror's Liam Corless). Bundesliga pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft commented on the relationship between the two:
Mario Götze is Klopp's "baby". He made him a superstar. Was very sad when he left for Bayern. Great player, but hasn't arrived at Bayern— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 8, 2016
Any chance of a winter transfer has been shortened by the fact that Gotze—now at Bayern Munich—is currently injured with a pulled hamstring.
However, Bundesliga expert Raphael Honigstein reinforced the "serious" possibility of Gotze arriving on Merseyside next summer, at which point Carlo Ancelotti will take over at the Bayern Munich helm:
Götze is certainly injured enough for LFC. Unlikely to come back before February. But seriously: could well happen in the summer— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) January 8, 2016
Still just 23 years of age, Gotze hasn't become the superstar many expected after Der FCB triggered his €37 million release clause in 2013, a move that made him the most expensive German ever at the time.
Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has moved quickly to dismiss speculation linking Gotze with a move to the Premier League, however, and told Bild the claims are "nonsense" (h/t Goal's Joe Wright): "Every day new nonsense comes along. That is all I am going to say on this."
Gotze has played the full 90 minutes in just 40 of his 104 Bayern Munich appearances, but the playmaker dispelled any speculation of a rift between Guardiola and himself last month, per Goal's Dejan Kalinic:
You can't look into his head. The coach and the club have to decide. It's difficult to give a prognosis. ... We all saw it. Especially during the last two-and-a-half years. We played successful football and the way that we play suits the team and football itself. A big part of that is because of the coach.
We would be happy if he stayed. He's got a philosophy that suits us very well and that's why it would be a good thing if he stayed.
Liverpool will hope an investment to sign Gotze is more profitable than the last Borussia Dortmund alumni they signed, Nuri Sahin. After struggling at Real Madrid, Sahin moved on a season-long loan to Anfield in 2012, but the deal was terminated in January 2013 after neither party was happy with the switch.
Speaking to Turkish broadcaster TRT in November 2014, Sahin revealed he was forced to leave Liverpool after ex-manager Brendan Rodgers insisted on playing him out of position (h/t Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express):
"I went to Liverpool because of my love for the Premier League. After scoring a few goals the manager started playing me behind the striker which does not suit my game. Despite my love for the club and the fans, I had to leave due to the manager's insistence on playing me in that role."
The tendency to shift players around the pitch was critiqued as a flaw in Rodgers' style, but Klopp is already showing more willingness to facilitate players in their natural roles.
Corless also cited a report from Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, who claimed Fiorentina have been put off in their pursuit of Anderlecht's Praet after being quoted a price tag of €30 million (£22.3 million).
The 21-year-old intensified rumours he could complete a future move to England after sharing a photo of himself celebrating New Year's Eve in London:
Praet has scored four goals and recorded six assists in 24 outings for Anderlecht this season, and despite his age, the creative talent is already an established senior figure in the Belgian outfit's squad.
The forward has long been tipped as one of Belgium's emerging talents, but Liverpool may struggle to meet the youngster's hefty asking price.