Liverpool already has its own N’Golo Kanté, highlighting the magnitude of FSG’s rebuilding work.
Liverpool requires a major midfield overhaul this summer. A ‘proposal’ for N’Golo Kanté has highlighted the enormity and difficulty of FSG’s task.
Without giving too much credit to the rumor, the thought of N’Golo Kanté joining Liverpool is obviously intriguing. As it stands, the move has some baseline appeal to FSG as it looks to allocate the majority of its transfer resources to other sections of the midfield renovation.
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Jürgen Klopp is definitely on board, having’requested’ that Liverpool bring him to Anfield in the summer. Whether that’s true or not, it’s an intriguing prospect for a player who was once regarded as one of the finest in the world.
Given Kanté’s age, it goes without saying that such a move would be out of character for FSG. However, there is some precedent – while Thiago was considerably younger when Liverpool made an exemption for him, the same concept applies, especially with no transfer price attached.
Kanté, like Thiago, has the advantage of having few kilometers in the tank in the broad scheme of things. Neither has played more than 30,000 minutes in their careers, therefore they have played more than 5000 minutes less than Fabinho.
This is, unfortunately, a mixed blessing. In both cases, a long-held predisposition to sustain injuries is a major cause for the lower career workload. Kanté’s problems began at Chelsea, whilst Thiago’s problems date back to his time at Barcelona, but the bottom line is the same: while both still have much to give when fit, it comes at the expense of consistency.
This is hardly the kind of profile FSG requires for its rebuild, especially when Naby Keta falls into a similar category. They would theoretically make up Liverpool’s ‘best’ midfield, yet they could easily share a dressing room for five years without ever being fit at the same moment.
Of course, the Guinean appears to be another who might leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, and Kanté would be a highly ideal replacement in terms of style. Thiago, by the way, can be thrown in as a rather accurate profile match as well. But, even if an extension could be agreed upon, there is a reason Keta has been permitted to reach this point – Liverpool has been cautious since fitness problems are definitely a huge issue.
And therein lies FSG’s actual quandary, one that goes far beyond Keta or Kanté. If it is determined to pursue Jude Bellingham, or a suitable big-money transfer replacement in the event of failure, it practically forces Liverpool to resort to the bargain bin for the remainder of its midfield rebuild, which will certainly necessitate more than one player.
After all, in addition to Keta, the club must deal with the prospective departures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner. Even if he continues in the latter circumstance, it is apparent that his game time will continue to decrease as he reaches his 38th year. Meanwhile, while Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are not quite that old, their troubles are well-documented, and Thiago is not getting any younger.
Shopping in less-tested markets is perhaps the most practical solution to the problem of finding cheap midfield talent, which Brighton has made appear easy. Even so, there are significant inherent hazards. And, as Keta and Kanté demonstrate, there is always a reason why a contract has been let to expire in the free transfer market.
In some ways, landing Bellingham would be only the beginning of Liverpool’s quest. Even if his exceptional all-around skill set makes him the closest thing on the market to a quick fix, he would be helpless to turn the team’s fortunes around on his own. FSG would need to provide him with competent partners, presumably on a limited budget.
When suggestions like signing Kanté on a free transfer are floated around, it is easy to believe that adding some solid choices on a tight budget will not be too difficult for Liverpool. But, in truth, that may be much more difficult for FSG than purchasing Bellingham, and with such a large rebuild required, the margin for error is razor-thin.