Liverpool look set to make one of their first signings of the summer, with French publication l’Equipe reporting they are closing in on a deal for highly-rated young Rennes forward Paul-Georges Ntep.
The 22-year-old attacker has impressed with his performances in Ligue 1 in recent times and looks like an exciting talent, with the Metro claiming the Gunners also known to have scouted him in the last few months.
However, L’Equipe state that Ntep visited Liverpool’s Melwood training ground both last week and for a second time on Tuesday, and was impressed by the facilities on offer.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers is clearly doing what he must to improve his side’s attack for next season, with the team desperately short of quality after dreadful campaigns from the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, as well as numerous injuries to star striker Daniel Sturridge.
It remains to be seen if Ntep would instantly command a first-team spot at Liverpool next season, but his record of 9 goals and 5 assists from out wide this season suggest he is more than just a player for the future. Given his age and talent though, there’s no doubt Rodgers will be thinking long-term with this signing, as he has with bringing in other promising players such as Emre Can and Lazar Markovic last year.
It has previously been suggested in the Liverpool Echo that Raheem Sterling’s contract situation with the club could also provoke some big spending on attacking players this summer, and it’s intriguing that Ntep is a similar style of player – goalscoring winger who can also play up front.
Ntep has spent the vast majority of the season on the left wing, but has occasionally been deployed on the right and up front. A confident dribbler – only Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling attempt more take-ons per game – the exciting forward is confident enough to showboat on occasion. This goal from the end of last season is a great illustration of that – it takes a confident player to do this in any match:
While Ntep isn’t the big name player the club might be craving, a top four spot looks unlikely for Liverpool with just a few games of the Premier League season remaining. The club need to build a more competitive team without the benefit of Champions League revenue, and Ntep could be a good use of funds.
Although the Liverpool manager has sometimes received criticism for bringing in some questionable signings, players like Can and Markovic are good examples of those that have slowly improved over time, as well as players like Simon Mignolet and Mamadou Sakho. Rodgers’ record in the transfer market isn’t unblemished, but he’s proven himself to have an eye for young talent.
In that sense, Ntep may be a good gamble for the club – even if he is not the big name many fans would be crying out for.