Liverpool are reportedly set to miss out on two of manager Jurgen Klopp's potential summer transfer targets, forward Leroy Sane and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies told German publication the Rheinische Post (h/t James Gray of the Daily Express) he believes Sane will stay in the Bundesliga for at least one more season: "I do not see Leroy Sane leaving Schalke any time soon. Everybody who wants the best for him has been telling him that he should stay at Schalke for at least one more season. You can still see him developing game after game."
That's a potential blow for Klopp, whom Gray stated has shown an interest in the gifted 20-year-old: "Jurgen Klopp had reportedly been hoping to swoop for the player having admitted his admiration for Sane from his days in Germany with Borussia Dortmund."
Yet Gray also suggested Manchester City will match any bid from the Anfield club. Incoming City boss Pep Guardiola has seen Sane's development first hand during his spell in charge of German club Bayern Munich.
Back in early January, German newspaper Bild (h/t the Daily Telegraph) suggested Sane had informed Schalke he wants to leave.
As an attacking midfielder with the potential to also play striker, Sane is perfect for the attack Klopp is creating with the Reds. He's relying on fluid forwards such as Roberto Firmino to lead the line. Pairing the Brazilian's flair with a player of Sane's technical quality would finally make Klopp's Liverpool dangerous in front of goal.
Juve Want Gundogan
Away from the forward line, Klopp would considerably upgrade Liverpool's midfield by putting former player Gundogan at the heart of it. But according to Italian source Tuttosport (h/t talkSPORT.com), Klopp won't get the chance to reunite with the Germany international: "According to Tuttosport, Juve's board of directors see Gundogan as a player who can catapult them towards European glory."
The report names Klopp and Liverpool as likely competition for the Turin club, with Gundogan out of contract at the end of next season.
He's an ideal player for the style of football Klopp is cultivating at Anfield. The Reds are moving the ball along the ground at pace, making quick transitions from defence to attack. Deep-lying midfielders with exceptional vision are key to that approach.
Gundogan has shown that quality while at Dortmund, switching play with long direct passes, as well as intelligent, short-range distribution between the lines.
The classic No. 8 has a pass success percentage of more than 87 percent in the Bundesliga this season, along with a pair of assists, according to WhoScored.com. Klopp's squad needs a playmaker of this quality dictating passing in the middle.
Will Gundogan choose Klopp over UCL football?
But it will surely be tough to beat Juve to a deal without the lure of UEFA Champions League football next season, something Klopp will struggle to achieve. Instead, he'll have to hope personal history counts for more than a higher level of competition.
Both Sane and Gundogan fit the profile of players Klopp will need to eventually turn things around at Anfield. But Liverpool's struggle to command respect in the market, in terms of attracting marquee talents, could prove a major stumbling block.