Exclusive Neil Jones column: Liverpool transfer news, featuring 9 potential midfielder targets & more

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Plenty of positives to take from Liverpool’s draw at Chelsea

I think with regards to the result, and in many ways the performance, a sense of perspective is wise from a Liverpool perspective. A point at Stamford Bridge, in any season, is an acceptable result, and in this instance Liverpool were playing against a team that has a new coach, with new ideas, and players who should be more motivated and more together than they were for the majority of last season. Some were new, others had points to prove, but all are full of quality.

It was a good start to the game for the Reds, and I thought we saw what they will be capable of doing to sides in that first half hour or so. They have a lot of players who are very good technically, who can see and execute a pass, and the movement of the forwards remains as sharp as any team in the Premier League. Had there been a little more precision in certain moments – Jota overhitting a pass to Diaz, Salah miscontrolling, Gakpo squaring when he might have gone alone – then they could have been two or three goals up.

The worry, naturally, is what happened after that opening spell, when Chelsea gained control of the game and were the dominant force, towards the end of the first half and then for much of the second. Liverpool didn’t keep the ball as well as they needed to, and when they did lose it, they did so in bad areas which meant their shape was exposed. That’s been a bit of a theme of pre-season, and even before that, so it’s definitely something that will need work – both on the training ground and in the transfer market. A natural holding midfield player is a must, or failing that a change of shape to help close some of those gaps that appear.

The good news is that, on an individual basis, most players showed promise. Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate were good, Alisson Becker was his usual self, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai had encouraging debuts and there was enough from Salah and Luis Diaz to suggest goals will flow. Liverpool’s subs made a difference, too, and again had there been a little more precision in the final third, they may even have nicked the game.

As for Salah’s reaction, I really don’t think it’s anything to talk about. We’ve seen it before from him, he doesn’t like to leave the field, and especially when a) he hasn’t scored and b) the game is live. His mindset is that ‘I’m the man who’s going to win this game’, and that is part of what makes him so great. Jurgen Klopp knows that, and there will be no issue with Salah over his reaction. As he said The day when I sub a player and he is jumping into my arms, at 1-1, as a striker, then I would be really surprised!”

Inside the Moises Caicedo rollercoaster

The Caicedo saga was, even for those of us well-versed in transfer-market shenanigans, a pretty crazy one. That Thursday and Friday last week was a rollercoaster, to say the least.

In many ways it’s pretty complicated but in others relatively straightforward. Liverpool have long believed Caicedo would end up at Chelsea, hence their reluctance to pursue a deal either in January or earlier this summer. But as that story rumbled on, and as their own need for midfielders became more clear, they began asking questions as to why a deal hadn’t been done with Chelsea. And those questions led, in the end, to enough encouragement, both from Brighton and from the player’s side, for that British-record £110m bid to be submitted (and accepted) on Thursday evening.

Even then, though, there was still a feeling that Chelsea would return, and so it turned out. Liverpool had hoped to get Caicedo up to Merseyside on Friday, but it was made clear pretty early that it would not be happening. Jurgen Klopp held a press conference at 10am on Friday morning, and his mood clearly suggested to those of us who were present that this was far from a done deal. And so it proved. Caicedo made it perfectly clear that it was Chelsea for him – they have been in contact for months – and Brighton had no choice but to reopen negotiations despite having accepted Liverpool’s offer.

What Liverpool are left with is a sense of disappointment, and a feeling that somewhere down the line they have been used, either by the player’s agent, by Brighton or by both, to scare Chelsea into action. Brighton have certainly won, Caicedo and his agents have won, but Liverpool most definitely haven’t.

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