New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will reportedly try to make Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi his first signing, as the German has been eyeing the 21-year-old Italian since he was in charge of Borussia Dortmund.
That's according to Calciomercato (h/t Daily Mirror's Liam Corless), who believes Klopp didn't act on his interest back then because the player was co-owned by Sassuolo and Italian champions Juventus. The co-ownership was resolved last summer, with the Neroverdi buying Berardi outright.
Juventus maintain a buy-back clause, per Corless, but that isn't stopping Reds fans from dreaming of adding the wildly talented forward.
Steve Carson of Kohinoor Radio is among them:
Despite not playing as a traditional centre-forward, Berardi's statistics in his first two seasons in Serie A have been spectacular.
Playing for a young and inexperienced Sassuolo squad, he scored a total of 31 goals during those campaigns, per WhoScored.com. He was also a standout player at the Under-21 European Championship this summer.
Juventus' buy-back clause is a major obstacle to any deal, however. As shared by FourFourTwo's Adam Digby, Sassuolo owner Giorgio Squinzi recently shared the details of the arrangement, which is very fair financially for the Bianconeri:
The Italian champions were forced to either buy Berardi outright or sell him during the summer, with co-ownership deals now outlawed in Italy, and they opted to send him to Sassuolo to guarantee regular playing time.
They're widely expected to re-sign him either in January or next summer, however, something even Berardi knows, per Sky Sports Italia (h/t Football Italia).
Juan Cuadrado's emergence as a viable long-term option could block Berardi's path to Turin, which may work in Liverpool's favour, but the forward is too good for Juventus not to activate their clause, if only to sell him for a nice profit. In all likelihood, he'll be a regular part of the Juventus squad next season.
Berardi is a precious talent and would be an excellent addition for the Reds, but a transfer to the Premier League doesn't appear any more likely than it did back when he was still co-owned.
More from Serie A, where La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Corless) believes Klopp is also looking at Napoli midfielder Jorginho. Southampton are reportedly also interested in the Brazilian-turned-Italian, who has established himself as one of Italy's top young midfielders in the past two years.
The 23-year-old, who was born in Brazil but has been a member of Italy's youth setup for years, joined Napoli in January of last year and has impressed ever since.
FourFourTwo's Matthew Amalfitano is a big fan:
Jorginho acting as a deep-lying regista is odd in the age of less-specialised player roles. Think Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso, but with a slender frame. His quality is undoubted, and he attracted attention from Premier League giants Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool before signing a co-ownership deal with the Partenopei. The midfielder has just returned from injury, but has not taken long to impress and should soon permanently recapture his starting place in Napoli’s double pivot.
Although not yet capped for Italy, Jorginho is likely the future of the national team, and an heir to Pirlo. And wouldn’t a potential midfield duo of Jorginho and Marco Verratti be something special to watch? The 22-year-old is one of Napoli’s best performers and will again help lead the charge for a Champions League place.
Napoli haven't had the greatest start to the 2015-16 campaign, a logical result following the departure of manager Rafa Benitez, and the form of the Partenopei may be key to whether or not Jorginho chooses to stay with the club.
Similar to Berardi, a move seems unlikely, however. Jorginho hasn't been with Napoli for long and is still establishing himself as a top player in Serie A and a viable option for the national team.
The timing simply isn't right, and with a number of young Italians failing with their foreign adventures in recent years―think of Fabio Borini or Ciro Immobile―the likes of Jorginho will be more careful.
Convincing Napoli to sell their star midfielder may be next to impossible, but Jorginho is talented enough to at least warrant an approach.
With his passing ability, he will remind some of Ilkay Gundogan, the star creator who worked out so well under Klopp with Dortmund.