Liverpool are hoping to win the race for an RB Salzburg forward enjoying a fantastic season in front of goal, Graham Potter’s selection could prove costly as a Chelsea man wants out, while Tuesday’s Transfer Gossip claims Napoli will hand a Premier League-linked star a new contract.
BUNDESLIGA ATTACKER WANTED BY LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are reportedly among the clubs hoping to sign versatile forward Noah Okafor from RB Salzburg.
The centre-forward, who can also operate as a winger on either flank, is enjoying a top season in Austria. He has managed 10 goals and two assists in his first 22 matches this campaign, with seven of those strikes coming in Austria’s Bundesliga.
Okafor found the net 14 times in the whole of last season, so he is primed and ready to surpass that achievement when domestic leagues return after the World Cup.
The 22-year-old, who is hoping to be a part of the Switzerland squad for the tournament, has previously been named as a target for Arsenal and Leeds United.
But those two Premier League clubs may struggle to capture him after a journalist revealed how the transfer race is heating up, with Liverpool now in the mix.
According to Sky Sport Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg, Liverpool, Manchester City and AC Milan are the latest teams to set their sights on Okafor.
Manchester United, though, will not go after the player’s signature. Given their huge pulling power, this is a boost for the likes of Liverpool, City and Milan.
Plettenberg claims a winter transfer is very possible for Okafor. His Salzburg contract expires in summer 2024 and he is unlikely to renew it as he knows about interest from elsewhere.
Due to this stance, the reigning Austrian champions must sell him in the new year. And it seems a January exit is more likely than a summer one.
World Cup ‘very important’ to Okafor future and cost – journalist
The World Cup will apparently be ‘very important’ in deciding where Okafor ends up and how much he will cost.
Should the former FC Basel man be shocked and left out of the Switzerland squad, then he will not have the chance to increase his transfer value. That currently stands at £30.7m-35m.
But if Okafor makes the 26-man setup, as expected, then he could shine on the biggest stage of all. And this may see his price tag rise to above £40m.
Such a turn of events could rule Milan out of the running. They do not have as much spending power as Liverpool or City.
Liverpool already have a host of attacking options, including Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.
But Jurgen Klopp has had to deal with injury problems, which have kept Jota and Diaz out of the team. This is one reason why the Reds might move for Okafor, as he can cover any position in the front three.
Liverpool may also be preparing for the eventual exit of Brazilian ace Firmino. Many thought he would leave in the summer, but prospective moves to Juventus and Atletico Madrid never got going.
Firmino is out of contract at the end of the season. And if he signals his desire for a new challenge, then Liverpool will have to go all-out for Okafor to replace him.
CHELSEA MAN GUNNING FOR EXIT
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is ‘contemplating’ a potential Stamford Bridge exit due to Potter’s selections, as per a report.
While Mendy was a certified starter under Thomas Tuchel, this is no longer the case now that Potter is in charge. The manager likes Kepa Arrizabalaga and has selected him in goal 10 times this season.
This has left Mendy on the bench more often recently and he isn’t happy. According to the Daily Mailthe 30-year-old will consider a potential transfer during the World Cup break.
He is due to represent Senegal at the tournament. And they are hoping to impress after winning the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
But Mendy will also have some of his thoughts focused on a Chelsea exit. Such a transfer is more likely to take place next summer rather than January, though.
The report also provides a bit of insight into Mendy’s contract situation. His current Chelsea deal runs until summer 2025.
Blues chiefs have held initial talks with Mendy and his agent over an extension. But these discussions haven’t resulted in an agreement. Presumably, this is down to the shot-stopper losing his starting spot.
Chelsea spent £22m to sign Mendy from Rennes in September 2020. And despite him being 30 years old, they would probably want to make most of this money back on the France-born star.
NAPOLI ACE IN LINE FOR NEW DEAL
Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could soon receive a new contract offer from the Serie A club, according to a report.
Kvaratskhelia has been arguably the best breakout player in Europe this term. He has had a hand in 18 goals already, helping Napoli top the Italian league and helping them qualify from Champions League Group A ahead of Liverpool.
The Georgian has put in some devastating performances from the left wing, leading to him being affectionately labeled ‘Kvaradona’.
His top form has also, inevitably, resulted in links with English clubs. Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea are all thought to be admirers of the 21-year-old.
But Napoli are taking steps to ward off his potential suitors. According to Italian outlet Il Mattino (via Football Italy), Napoli will soon offer Kvaratskhelia a new contract.
They want to increase his weekly wage as well as include more bonuses associated with goals and assists. The aim is that this will keep Kvaratskhelia happy in Naples and prevent him from looking for a move abroad.
Napoli have not wasted any time, either. They have only just got the new contract in motion but have already spoken with the star’s agent about a possible renewal.
A new contract could prove vital to Napoli in the second half of the season. As Georgia haven’t qualified for the World Cup, Kvaratskhelia can rest during the next month or so.
This means he should be able to tear up Serie A once again upon his return. Napoli are currently vulnerable to January bids for him, but fresh contract terms would make an exit less likely.
And Kvaratskhelia remaining at Napoli would help them massively in their bid to win a first league title since 1989-90.