???️ An afternoon with James Pearce Liverpool Echo journalist makes appearance on Reds Transfer Roundup

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This week’s Liverpool transfer roundup show saw the appearance of a special guest in the Redmen TV studio. Chris and Ste were joined by Liverpool Echo journalist James Pearce, who came in to give his thoughts on what has proved to be a disappointing and gruelling transfer window for Liverpool thus far. In a 40 minute show, a lot was discussed, but of course, there was only one place to start. Ste began by asking James about Liverpool’s biggest transfer story of the summer- the saga surrounding Philippe Coutinho. We’ve all heard the reports yesterday that a massive 4th bid could about to be tabled, with a £138million fee being the number thrown around, with £100million of that as an up-front payment. Not only that but the add-ons included would be ones that Liverpool will consider to be more realistic that last week’s bid (So no bonus for Ballon D’or wins this time…). It was actually very handy to have someone in the studio who knows exactly what’s happening on a day where yet again the future of Coutinho is being doubted. But they will be wasting their time making the bid, as James definitively confirmed that Liverpool’s stance on the matter has not changed. There have been rumours that it is in fact Coutinho himself who is egging Barcelona on to give it another go as he is ???desperate’ to leave the club. Chris gave his thoughts on how Barcelona have gone about the whole process of courting Coutinho. It’s apparent that the current state of the transfer market inflation is making life more difficult for any team to sign their top targets. Even a huge club like Barcelona are not managing to have things all their own way like they might’ve done in the past. Chris discussed how the club is in turmoil and have therefore not gone about the process of trying to sign Coutinho in the right way. James agreed with this point, once again reiterating that Liverpool’s long-term stance on the matter as a whole has been that Phil has no price and Barca’s activity surrounding that stance has been distasteful. However, Pearce was doubtful on how genuine the motives from Barca are concerning this 4th bid. He suggested that there could’ve been many other reasons behind launching a 4th bid, one of which is keeping the prices of other deals they’re trying to complete down. Bidding such a high offer for Coutinho could be a ploy for other clubs, so they can say to claim that they can’t afford other sky-high transfers fees because of the ongoing negotiation concerning Coutinho. Either way, the fact that Liverpool’s stance has been consistent and the timing of the bids from Barcelona suggests that Barca’s approach to the situation has been distasteful. James also noted that given Coutinho’s contract situation. If a club like Liverpool can’t keep a player who signed a 5-year contract in January with no release clause, who can we keep? Who can anyone keep? Is everyone just constantly for sale? The signing of the contract has put Liverpool in such a powerful position. And if you look back at FSG’s track record in situations like this, they are not ones to back down. Suarez and Sterling were sold on our terms, while even players like Christian Benteke we managed to recoup a large chunk of the fee we paid for him when moving him on to Crystal Palace. When the club are in a good position like this where we don’t need to sell, we tend to either not sell at all, or sell the player on our terms, when we’re ready. The guys also discussed the apparent back-injury and illness Phil has conveniently suffered over the course of the main bulk of this transfer saga. Whether the stories are true or not, it’s probably a good idea to keep him away from the squad at this moment in time due to the distraction the whole thing is causing. James confirmed that the player hasn’t gone AWOL or gone on strike, which is always nice to hear. To add credibility to the illness story, Klopp said in a press conference yesterday that Emre Can was suffering from the same bug and also hasn’t trained at Melwood in the last couple of days. So perhaps there is some element of truth to it. The fact of the matter is that Coutinho is pretty much guaranteed to not return to the matchday squad until after the window closes. The situation is probably helped slightly by the international break on the horizon. Brazil actually play on deadline day and if Coutinho is involved it will be good for himself and Liverpool to take a breather from the situation. James hadn’t spoken to anyone about his plans for international duty but imagines that Phil will be desperate to get out of the country for a bit and take a break from the saga. It will probably benefit Liverpool too as they can have their star man get some minutes under his belt and be back up to match-fitness for the Manchester City game on September 9th (assuming that back injury does indeed clear up…). Moving on to other transfer news from over the summer, and the incoming transfer stories that have saturated our summer so far. The biggest story really has been the attempt to sign Virgil Van Dijk. Ste’s big question was that, even though Liverpool’s relationship with Southampton is a little sketchy at the moment, there has been NO indication that we will be making any bid before the window closes. In fact, there has been very little movement in the entire saga since Van Dijk handed in the transfer request earlier this month. James discussed how he feels the club are treading very lightly in the situation, basically in an attempt to not piss Southampton off given the earlier scandals so far in the deal. The stance that Liverpool are taking is that until Southampton give a clear indication that they are ready to receive bids, they will not be accepting any, particularly from Liverpool. We just have to hope that any bid that we make will be greeted with the same acceptance as a bid from other clubs looking at him, such as Chelsea and Manchester City. Southampton are in an identical position as Liverpool are in with Coutinho. They are in no position to sell, and if they were to sell to Liverpool by the end of this window, it would have to be for a huge amount of money, more than Liverpool were already willing to offer. There is a possibility that Liverpool could get to deadline day and just throw the money at Southampton to see what happens. Klopp did recently say that it could be a busy August 31st at Anfield. Let’s hope it’s regarding this deal or one of the others that have been discussed. Pearce said that what is giving Liverpool hope at the moment is the fact that Van Dijk is still not training with the rest of the Southampton first team. His reluctance to play for the club could be the key factor in whether or not he moves as we approach the deadline. James did reiterate that if Van Dijk wasn’t signed, Klopp would definitely push ahead with Matip, Lovren, Klaven and Gomez as his 4 centre-backs for the season. Chris and Ste also asked James about the recent rumours of a move for Juilan Draxler, which appear to be rubbish. Klopp was interested in the winger in January, but wasn’t impressed with the player’s money-orientated motives, as he chose to sign for PSG from Wolfsburg in that particular window. Things haven’t worked out for him there but an alternative for Liverpool that has been mentioned is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This one appears to have been dead in the water, with Arsenal ready to offer Ox a new contract worth £125k per week, but Pearce still seemed to think that an interest remained for Liverpool. Arsenal’s stance is that they’re not selling any of the players linked away this summer. At the moment they are indeed keeping to that stance, but Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are all out of contract next summer, so the Gunners could potentially get cold feet in the stance they are taking. What appeals to Klopp when it comes to Oxlade-Chamberlain is the versatility that comes with him. He can play on the wing, and midfield, lots of jobs all over the field. It could save Klopp the issue of having to play players in position they’re not comfortable in. For example last season, Adam Lallana was often played out on the right, Bobby Firmino on the left. Ox would solve lots of these problems. Pearce thinks that Chamberlain is up for the move, but the issue for him is whether he would nail down a regular starting place at Liverpool, which is something he’s struggling to do at Arsenal as it is, and it is frustrating him. The other area that Liverpool have been looking to strengthen this summer has been in holding midfield, the classic Number 6 role. Naby Keita has been the main link in this position but that deal seems dead for this summer at least. Steve asked James what sort of midfielder Liverpool are looking to sign at the moment, and Pearce said it would most likely be that deep-lying central midfielder that could fill the position that Jordan Henderson normally fills and Emre Can often plays in too. Another we’ve been linked with is Jean Michael Seri, at Nice. However, Pearce reckons that that’s also an unlikely candidate given the ???50million price tag Nice have set on him, and that there probably wasn’t any substance to that story at all. In fact, it was discussed by Pearce that it is overall more difficult to separate legitimate news from bullshit with the rise of Twitter and social media and how easy it is for anyone to begin a transfer rumour and for that to pick up attention and start going viral. The rise of sports websites that will now publish literally anything just for clicks means there’s a growing amount of rubbish online and it takes him time to sort that genuine from the bollocks. It was fantastic having Pearce in to give us his insight on some of the ongoing transfer stories, and his opinions about the window on the whole this summer. It was a great edition of Reds Transfer Roundup! By Ben Kelly
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