By 90Min
May 27, 2019

All signs suggest a quiet summer for Liverpool in 2019.

Jurgen Klopp himself has dismissed any notion that the Reds are destined for another year of making it rain, while the BBC's transfer oracle David Ornstein claimed that the deals Liverpool do complete will be in the Xherdan Shaqiri price range (or cheaper).

That's fine though. With the squad stable and well-stocked with quality, Klopp and co's focus will be on finding inexpensive competition in a few select areas.

The areas in question are likely to be: backup goalkeeper, backup left back and (possibly) backup forward.

So, ignore the spurious click-bating links to Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt and (give me strength) Nabil Fekir and instead feast your eyes on six backup stars Liverpool could aim for this summer...Ok, it's not as glam but it is more realistic.

See here for the equivalent pieces covering the keepers and left backs.

Max Kruse (Werder Bremen)

Few, if any, options are seemingly quite as sensible and risk-free as Max Kruse.

The German is, at 31, an old hand in the Bundesliga and has scored double figures (in all competitions) in all but two of his last eight seasons. However, he appears set to leave Werder Bremen on a free transfer in the summer as his contract expires.

Like Roberto Firmino, he is a deeper-lying, 'hybrid' striker. He also has a wicked left foot and is as frequent with the assists as he is with goals. 

Although his wages and signing-on fee would be costly in lieu of a transfer payment, Kruse looks to be an ideal understudy to Firmino in terms of style and position.

Read more about Max Kruse in Ben Carter's profile of him here for 90min.

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

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Ok, I promised to stay realistic but this is the one 'marquee' signing that may just happen.

With just one year left on his contract, Timo Werner may be just too good an opportunity for Liverpool to pass up.

The 23-year-old Germany international fits the Liverpool profile in age and ability and is a known long-term target of the Reds. He is likely to be allowed to move this summer, with the RB Leipzig chiefs conceding that a contract extension is not going to happen.

However, Bundesliga talent hoovers Bayern Munich remain the favourites and Liverpool would surely need to outbid and outwoo the German title holders to land Werner, who may not be content to play second fiddle to Firmino even for a season or two.

The striker, who can also play out wide, has scored 63 goals in Germany's top flight since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2013.

Joelinton (Hoffenheim)


Touted as the 'new Firmino' on YouTube skills compilations and social media posts, the similarities between Joelinton and Liverpool's number nine are quite obvious.

Both are Brazilian (both from the northeast of the country) and both made the move to European football with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

Like Firmino too, Joelinton - who scored 11 goals in all competitions in 2018/19 - is not a prolific striker but is more effective in support and is and tireless defender from the front. 

In contrast, while he lacks Firmino's lightness of touch, he is taller, stronger and quicker than Firmino and much more of a physical handful. Intriguingly, he is also two-footed.

The 22-year-old has already been linked with a move to Newcastle among others. Although Liverpool should be confident of presenting a more attractive transfer destination than most, the battle for his signature has already sparked talk of £40m bids, which could put the Reds off.

Kasper Dolberg (Ajax)


The breakup of Ajax is a summer inevitability, with De Ligt, Hakim Ziyech, David Neres and Nicolas Tagliafico all touted for moves after Frenkie de Jong put his signature on a Barcelona contract to kickstart the exodus.

Curiously, one player who hasn't been talked about so much is Kasper Dolberg. 18 months ago the 21-year-old Dane was seen as one of Ajax's most prized assets, but his impact has been limited this season amid injury, and many of the club's other bright young talents have queue-jumped him on their way to big-money transfers.

His trajectory may have wobbled since impressing when he burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2016/17, but Dolberg is still technically excellent with strong link-up play and a boatload of potential.

The gossip suggests Ajax may take €20m for him now.

Maxwel Cornet (Lyon)

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Veering away from more central forwards to look at other options, one player being mentioned in the reports of late is Lyon forward Maxwel Cornet.

The 22-year-old Ivory Coast star, who mainly plays on the right, sparked fevered speculation when he name-checked the Reds while commenting on his future.

“Liverpool are a big club, any links are flattering. I’m under contract until 2021, but you never know in football so we’ll see,” he teased.

Cornet is still young and raw but has a lot of experience, having played 125 times in Ligue 1 for Lyon since his 2014 move. He ended the 2018/19 season with five goals in three games, as well as two assists.

His primary asset is his speed, making him a possible candidate to understudy for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah rather than Firmino.

With Tanguy Ndombele, Nabil Fekir and Ferland Mendy all tipped for a departure this summer, whether Lyon would allow another hot young talent to leave in the same window is another matter.

Marcus Thuram (Guingamp)


Another versatile option, adept at playing out wide, who might be more attainable than Cornet is Marcus Thuram.

The 21-year-old forward (the son of 1998 World Cup winner Marcus) currently features at Guingamp, who finished rock bottom of Ligue 1 this season.

With one year left on his contract, Thuram will likely be eager to move on to greater things than France's second tier after netting 13 goals in 2018/19.

Thuram - who won the Under-19 Euros with France in 2016 - is lightning fast and, at well over six feet tall, he forms an awkward presence to contend with from the flanks.

Everton, Watford and Spurs have all been linked, while his father's name is sure to attract interest from across Europe.

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