Reports are certainly gathering pace regarding Liverpool’s pursuit of Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum.
Numerous outlets suggest the Reds are keen to sign the Dutchman with the Magpies holding out for £25 million lump sum. It's understandable Jurgen Klopp may be reluctant to pay the transfer fee outright - without any instalments - but the fee could be lowered if a player is used as a makeweight.
That could be the case with the Telegraph reporting that Rafa Benitez is interested in bringing Lucas Leiva to St. James’ Park. Of course, Benitez knows all about the Brazilian having signed him for the Anfield club in 2007 and managed him for his remaining three seasons on Merseyside.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
While it’s understandable that the 29-year-old may not want to drop down to the Championship, the report states that Benitez could offer him the captaincy as an attempt to persuade him to leave Klopp’s side.
With Fabricio Coloccini leaving the Magpies this summer, the captain’s armband is up for grabs and Lucas could be rewarded with that responsibility if he does reunite with Benitez. While the midfielder is understood to be reluctant to move down a division, his relationship with the Spanish manager could tempt him to make the move.
Lucas will be aware that playing regular first-team football at Liverpool next season is unlikely - especially considering they aren’t involved in any European competitions. Last week, Klopp appeared to persuade those in a similar position to Lucas to leave the club in the coming weeks.
“It makes no sense to stay in the squad and be in the squad when you don’t have a real opportunity to play,” said Klopp.
“When there’s no chance to play, it makes absolutely no sense. We have a few players, maybe, who want to leave us and I’m pretty sure that will happen.”
However, if Benitez fails in his attempts to persuade Lucas to join Newcastle, he may look to Jon Flanagan. The full-back returned to first-team action towards the end of last season and it remains to be seen whether Klopp feels the 23-year-old can play a part in Liverpool’s upcoming campaign.
Those Liverpool supporters that didn’t watch too many Newcastle matches last season may not know what to make of their club’s pursuit of Wijnaldum. But, speaking back in March, Benitez spoke very highly of the 25-year-old claiming his ability means he can play in a variety of positions.
Benitez on Wijnaldum
“That is the problem – because he is so good, he can play everywhere and do well.
“He is one of the players that as a manager we enjoy to coach because he has pace, he has ability, and he is happy when he’s playing really well, is very positive.”