Calling True or False on 4 Recent Liverpool Transfer Rumours
It is likely there will be change on Merseyside this summer—while the magnitude of Jurgen Klopp's rebuilding job is yet to be seen, the German is set to make changes as he moulds his new side in his image.
Liverpool are currently vying for an unlikely top-four finish in the Premier League, as well as pushing for UEFA Champions League qualification through success in the UEFA Europa League, currently holding a two-goal lead over last-16 opponents Manchester United heading into Thursday night's second leg.
Klopp's first five months have seen considerable improvement at Anfield, with the 48-year-old fostering a belief and a winning mentality within a fragile Reds squad.
Having sanctioned two signings ahead of the 2016/17 campaign already in Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Grujic and long-serving Schalke centre-back Joel Matip, Klopp has made his intentions clear.
But as the rumour mill continues to turn with Liverpool entering the business end of the season, the distinction between fact and fiction becomes increasingly blurred.
Here, we call true or false on four recent transfer rumours regarding Klopp's Reds, kicking off with a possible move for Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on List of Potential Wide Targets
Arsene Wenger's patience in Oxlade-Chamberlain is running thin, if the Independent's Jack Pitt-Brooke is to be believed, with the Frenchman said to be disappointed in the midfielder's lack of progress since a £12 million move to the Emirates Stadium in 2011.
Pitt-Brooke said: "Wenger fears that Oxlade-Chamberlain has not developed as he first hoped, and if the club can make more than their money back this summer then they would be open to selling him."
This could see the former Southampton man leave for around £15 million, and the Daily Mail's Simon Jones listed Liverpool among a number of clubs "monitoring developments" regarding the 22-year-old's future in north London.
Oxlade-Chamberlain still has plenty of scope to develop and reach the potential shown in flashes during his time with the Gunners, plus he has quality to offer the Reds in a major problem area.
Klopp recently told the Press Association (h/t This is Anfield) that reinforcements out wide were a priority for the summer, and with Oxlade-Chamberlain capable of operating in a number of roles across the forward line, as well as deeper in midfield, he does potentially fit the bill.
Blending pace, power and agility, Oxlade-Chamberlain is an intriguing talent—but whether Liverpool will move for the England international this summer seems unlikely.
Klopp described his current wide options as "a few young ones with great potential," and while Oxlade-Chamberlain boasts considerable Premier League, European and international experience, with just 14 goals and 21 assists in 149 appearances for Arsenal, he remains in this bracket; far from the proven quality required.
Christian Benteke a Target for West Ham
While his last-minute heroics earned a late victory away to Crystal Palace earlier this month, Christian Benteke's position under Klopp remains under question, with the Belgian struggling to adapt to his new manager's tactical demands.
With the Hammers coming to terms with the competition for No. 1 target Michy Batshuayi's signature this summer—Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus are believed to covet the powerful Marseille forward—Benteke is said to have joined Wilfried Bony and Odion Ighalo as alternatives.
Furthermore, Kajumba claimed West Ham, "are ready to break their transfer record and spend up to £20 million."
If Slaven Bilic were to offer £20 million for Benteke, Liverpool may find it difficult to refuse, despite this sum representing a £12.5 million loss on the fee sanctioned to bring the striker to Anfield from Aston Villa last summer.
Benteke is arguably behind Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Danny Ings in Klopp's centre-forward pecking order, with the 25-year-old's lack of dynamism and work rate jarring with the Reds' aesthetic.
According to the Express' Paul Joyce at the beginning of March, Benteke turned down a move to the Chinese Super League in the winter, suggesting that Liverpool are willing to sell at the right price—but is that price £20 million?
Mario Gotze in Sights as Marquee Transfer
Liverpool's pursuit of attacking target Alex Teixeira this winter—ultimately failing, with Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning signing the Brazilian for £40 million at the beginning of February—highlighted Klopp's willingness to spend big in supplementing his forward line.
While Adam Lallana has enjoyed a resurgence under the German, and both Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are established starting options in the Liverpool attack, Klopp may be looking for an X-factor this summer.
This could come in the form of Bayern Munich's Mario Gotze, if reports in Klopp's homeland are to be believed.
German publication TZ (h/t the Telegraph) claimed Gotze is unlikely to be offered an extension on his contract with Bayern, and with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season, Liverpool are among the clubs chasing his signature this summer.
While the Reds are said to face competition from Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United, Klopp's interest in this marquee name may give Liverpool sway.
Gotze spent three-and-a-half seasons in Klopp's first team at former club Borussia Dortmund, rising into a key role in the German's attacking line before leaving to join Bayern in a deal worth £31.5 million in 2013.
A fleet-footed, skilful playmaker with an eye for goal, Gotze would give Klopp some much-needed quality on the right flank, while also being able to deputise in the No. 10 role and as an auxiliary forward; crucially, the 23-year-old is also familiar with Klopp's high-intensity pressing system, ensuring a swift adjustment period.
Behind the likes of Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Thomas Muller in the pecking order at Bayern, Gotze looks likely to leave the club this summer, and Liverpool's interest seems valid.
Double Cologne Raid for Timo Horn and Jonas Hector
Gotze may not be the only player Klopp targets from his former battleground of the Bundesliga, with reports from German newspaper Bild (h/t the Mirror) suggesting Cologne pair Timo Horn and Jonas Hector could be subject to a double swoop this summer.
Hector is said to be available for around £6.2 million, while Bild (h/t talkSPORT) have previously revealed that Horn's current contract includes a £6.5 million release clause, presenting Klopp with a pair of bargain signings in two key positions.
Simon Mignolet and Alberto Moreno, Klopp's current first-choice options at goalkeeper and left-back, have endured troubled 2015/16 campaigns so far and, with little in terms of competition, have remained in Klopp's starting lineup throughout—while both could have a future on Merseyside, reinforcements are required.
Horn would provide an immediate upgrade on Mignolet; at 22 years old, he could continue to develop into a top-level goalkeeper, having proved himself as a composed, commanding No. 1 during his four seasons in the Cologne first team.
Meanwhile, Hector—a 10-cap Germany international—represents a contrasting option to the attack-minded Moreno at left-back, with the 6' full-back largely focusing his efforts in the defensive sector.
Hector would add grit and physicality to Klopp's defensive line but is also capable of supporting the forward charge, having registered three assists in 26 outings this season—the same number as Moreno in 12 fewer appearances.
At a combined £12.7 million, Horn and Hector would prove invaluable, cost-effective additions this summer, and with Klopp no doubt familiar with their talents, they are likely high on his list of targets.
Statistics via Transfermarkt.co.uk.