Liverpool could have signed £25m Matip replacement on deadline day
Liverpool have completed their midfield rebuild on Deadline Day with Ryan Gravenberch joining but a reliable source hinted that the Reds could have sealed a second deal in the dying minutes and hours of the transfer window.
Who could Liverpool have signed?
Italian journalist and transfer expert Fabrizio Romano hinted that Liverpool could have been in the running to sign Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap before the transfer window closes.
Speaking on his KICK stream (via Caught Offside), Romano revealed:
“Let’s see [on Bella-Kotchap to Liverpool]. At the moment I don’t have any news on concrete negotiation, but Liverpool move fast in deals, like with Endo.”
That said, the Saints star has in fact sealed a move to PSV Eindhoven, whom the centre-back will join on loan for the season.
Did Liverpool need a defender during the transfer window?
There is no doubt that defensive reinforcements would be warmly welcomed at Anfield before the 11pm deadline this evening, as the fragility of the back line has continued to expose itself over the opening fixtures of the Premier League campaign.
Virgil van Dijk was sent off last weekend against Newcastle United and Ibrahima Konate has already suffered a minor muscle injury which saw him unavailable for selection for the victory over the Magpies and remains a doubt for the upcoming fixture against Aston Villa.
With Nat Phillips completing a move to Celtic on loan this afternoon, this leaves just Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as the most likely starters when the Reds welcome the Villains to Anfield.
As a result, the signing of Bella-Kotchap – who has a reported £25m release clause in his contract – would have been a great piece of business for the Merseyside giants, as defensive depth will not only be crucial in the immediate instance, but the Saints star would no doubt have been an ideal heir for Matip with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.
Over 24 Premier League appearances, the 21-year-old – once hailed “highly-rated” by Romano – registered two assists, tallied up an 80% pass completion rate, successfully completed 57% of his dribbles and won 69% of his aerial and ground duels combined, as per SofaScore.
Not only that, Bella-Kotchap has been a top performer across the top five European leagues over the last 12 months, ranking in the top 25% of his positional peers for assists, interceptions, blocks and clearances per 90 minutes played, according to FBref, which is a testament to his strong defensive attributes.
However, since being relegated with the south coast club, Bella-Kotchap has not been seen in the Championship yet due to a hamstring injury but was back on the bench against Queens Park Rangers last week – with Jan Bednarek and club captain Jack Stephens forming the trusted centre-back partnership under new manager Russel Martin so far.
With that being said, the signing of Bella Kotchap would’ve been a great opportunity for Liverpool to strengthen their defensive presence over the season ahead, however, it is now looking like it’s another deal that the club have let pass them by.
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