Liverpool Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Gelson Martins and Simon Kjaer

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2017

LISBON, PORTUGAL - APRIL 22: Sporting CP's forward Gelson Martins from Portugal (L) tackled by Benfica's defender Victor Nilsson-Lindelof from Sweden (R) during the Sporting CP v SL Benfica - Portuguese Primeira Liga match at Estadio Jose Alvalade on April 22, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Liverpool reportedly face competition for Sporting CP winger Gelson Martins and Fenerbahce centre-back Simon Kjaer, two of their mooted targets in this summer's transfer window.

Bitter Premier League rivals Manchester United are interested in signing Martins, while Serie A giants AC Milan are keen on Kjaer.

United are stepping up their interest in Martins on the word of manager Jose Mourinho, per Portuguese source O Jogo (h/t Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo).

United chief Mourinho wants Martins.
United chief Mourinho wants Martins.Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images

Doyle also detailed the level of financial commitment it will take for interested suitors to convince Sporting to sell their attacking star: "He has a 60 million euro release clause and, with Sporting under some financial pressure, Liverpool believe that can be negotiated down—which is probably why United have been linked."

Martins has been linked with Liverpool as the Anfield club considers cheaper alternatives to AS Roma wide man Mohamed Salah, according to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty. He cited unnamed sources from Portugal revealing the Reds had been knocked back when they offered £28 million for the Egyptian winger, prompting the interest in Martins.

Liverpool are finding it tough to meet Salah's asking price.
Liverpool are finding it tough to meet Salah's asking price.Dino Panato/Getty Images

There is no doubt Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp values wide players with pace who can make well-timed runs in behind defences. He built a lethal and fluid attack with such players at Borussia Dortmund, where Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan became vital in this formula.

Klopp has followed a similar blueprint at Anfield, particularly with the arrival of Sadio Mane from Southampton last summer. The Senegal international proved an inspired signing, scoring 13 Premier League goals, per WhoScored.com, before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Mane's injury and subsequent surgery increases the need for Klopp to add a wide player with similar pace and directness. It would also offset the weakness sometimes evident in a squad that often plays without a natural centre-forward.

          

Reds Rivalled for Key Defender

AC Milan have joined Liverpool in the race to sign Denmark international Kjaer, per Turkish source Milliyet (h/t Emre Sarigul of Turkish-Football.com).

Milliyet said the Rossoneri are already in talks with representatives of the 28-year-old defender but are struggling to negotiate the fee.

"Milan initially offered £7 million [€7.5 million], but it fell well short of the Yellow Canaries valuation and resulted in initial talks stalling," the Turkish-Football report added. 

Kjaer is on the radar of both Liverpool and Milan.
Kjaer is on the radar of both Liverpool and Milan.VI-Images/Getty Images

However, Sarigul noted there is one other factor that could push Kjaer to choose Milan over Merseyside: "Kjaer will get married to Eline Gollert in Rome, Italy, later this month. According to the report, Gollert has been putting pressure on Kjaer to consider a move to the Serie A."

Sarigul had separately spoken of Liverpool's interest in Kjaer being a reaction to missing out on Southampton's Virgil van Dijk, with the Reds involved in a potential tapping-up scandal.

Yahoo Sport UK revealed how the Reds held unsanctioned talks with Van Dijk, prompting Southampton's complaint to the Premier League, and Liverpool had even covertly agreed terms with the Netherlands international.

However, not being able to sign Van Dijk doesn't remove Klopp and Liverpool's need for a new centre-back. Kjaer is a rugged and savvy competitor, one who would add some aggression and a stronger aerial presence to the Reds' back four.

Liverpool have backed off their pursuit of Van Dijk.
Liverpool have backed off their pursuit of Van Dijk.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Being able to offer UEFA Champions League football next season ought to put Liverpool in a strong position to fend off the competition from Italy. Yet it may be a different story with Martins, especially if Portugal native Mourinho is serious about acquiring the winger.