Inter Milan midfielder Mateo Kovacic is close to sealing a move to Liverpool, according to a number of news sources including the Liverpool Echo, who repeat a somewhat-unfortunate claim made in Italy that boss Brendan Rodgers is ‘in love’ with the Croatian international.
The Metro even go as far as stating Kovacic has agreed personal terms at Anfield, although the veracity of the freesheet’s rumours have never been a barrier to their reporting in the past, while the Star suggests Inter will demand Martin Skrtel as part-exchange in a deal for the 21-year-old.
Bringing in Kovacic would continue the Reds’ rather measured approach to transfers so far this summer, following deals for free agent James Milner from Manchester City and 22-year-old Burnley striker Danny Ings, whose fee will be set by tribunal due to his age.
A quick, powerful forward is clearly a must for Liverpool next term, with Daniel Sturridge’s fitness issues not going away in a hurry and Mario Balotelli’s woeful first season at Anfield.
Paris Saint-Germain left-back Lucas Digne is also being touted to fill another problem position for Rodgers, while Kovacic’s capture would compliment a midfield already containing Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva.
Where Milner fits into this picture is a little less clear, especially considering Liverpool have a gaping hole to fill at right-back.
Glen Johnson has been released after six years on Merseyside, leaving Javi Manquillo as the only fit, recognised player in the position within Rodgers’ ranks, and he’s only on loan from Atletico Madrid.
Unless Liverpool sign a right-back between now and September, a possibility but not one that’s gaining much media traction at present, the Northern Irishman may be forced to use Milner in the spot he knows vaguely from his time at City and with England.
Manquillo didn’t start a match under Rodgers after the end of January, only making the pitch once between then and the end of the campaign, and when Can hitched up at right-back for the last game of the season at Stoke, this happened.
No doubt Milner was furnished with plenty of fancy promises about where he’ll play at Anfield, with some in the media, including former occasional Liverpool right-back Jamie Carragher, suggesting he could be made captain.
Hopefully he got everything in writing.
The layers up at bwin towers currently rate Liverpool’s chances of landing Kovacic by 02/09/15 at 6/4, with Manchester United next best in the betting at 5/1.