Liverpool have not ceased their interest in signing Timo Werner, but the club have made no concrete decisions around transfers given the financial implications of coronavirus and uncertainty over how it will reshape the market.
Anfield remains the forward’s destination of choice if he is to leave RB Leipzig, with the player not concealing his desire to line up under Jurgen Klopp, whom he has labelled “the best coach in the world.”
Werner has been assessed by the Premier League leaders since 2015, with their analysis escalating over the past two years given his stylistic suitability to fill an attacking role at the club.
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The 24-year-old’s declarations – both publicly and privately – that he wants to improve and would not be put off by the challenge of having to fight for his place addressed the only question mark Liverpool had against him given their explosive front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
As detailed by The Independent, the recruitment team and Klopp subscribe to a ‘it’s not about the first three months, but the first three years’ policy and do detailed character assessments of how a player would cope with being out of the fold, as Andy Robertson and Fabinho were, for example, while absorbing the demands on and off the pitch.
There have been differing reports over the release clause inserted into the contract extension Werner signed with Leipzig last summer and the terms around it, but a talent of his age being available for around £50m was seen as good value before the global pandemic.
Liverpool were willing to sanction a deal at that cost, feeling it resembled the outlay spent on Firmino and Mane with inflation.
However, Covid-19 has removed surety from transfer planning as clubs cede income on an unprecedented level while not having any certainty over how this season and the next one will unfold.
Liverpool had already been preparing for a relatively quiet summer before the crisis unless significant problems (an injury to a key player, a core asset pushing to leave) emerged.
There is an appreciation now that any business under consideration is up in the air until there is a clearer picture over the transfer landscape across Europe.
Leipzig’s sporting director Markus Krosche has already conceded that fees in the region of £50m for the club’s in-demand stars like Werner and Dayot Upamecano “is rather unlikely, at least this summer” due to coronavirus.
Liverpool have been determined not to abandon the recruitment principles that have restored the club as a domestic and European powerhouse.
While that means eschewing blockbuster price tags unless the player is a certified game-changer like Virgil van Dijk or Alisson, it also equates to being shrewd and trying to stay ahead of the competition when the window opens.
The club have been skilled in securing deals that were largely frowned upon or generated very little buzz – Mohamed Salah, Robertson, Firmino, Mane, Gini Wijnaldum – being cases in point.
With such an emphasis on finding value this summer, Liverpool’s pedigreed analytics team will be seeking out clever moves (see Joel Matip on a free, activating Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino’s low release clauses).