Editor’s Column: Liverpool must move now before Chelsea’s lazy scouting and bottomless pockets beat us to targets

Alexis Mac Allister is all but done. He’s completed his medical and the Argentine will be ready to join his new team-mates for the start of pre-season, just the way Jurgen Klopp likes it.

By taking advantage of the £45m release-clause, the Reds have secured a real bargain and a player who at 24, is the perfect age to kick on.

Klopp’s best buys have been players with around 150 career appearances aged 23 or 24. Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are the three most prime examples. Not youngsters, but players who still have their peaks ahead of them.

The recruitment work in midfield though is not yet done. With James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arthur Melo departing, Liverpool need more bodies, especially given Fabinho, Thiago and Jordan Henderson are ageing and arguably past their best.

The issue is a plethora of rivals with more financial clout than can get deals over the line first, even if clumsily.

Chelsea’s recent actions in the market cause problems. Firstly, the sloppy manner in which new owner Todd Boehly has haphazardly overpaid for targets just to get transfers done, seemingly to appease fans on Twitter, has inflated the market.

In January, Arsenal almost had Mykhailo Mudryk signed and sealed. The player was sharing Ian Wright compilations on Instagram. His heart was at the Emirates, but Chelsea came in with an absurd £100m+ offer and the novice Ukrainian ended up in West London, where the only thing he’s done of note is an impressive 15 minute cameo at Anfield…

Chelsea’s scouting approach seems to be to wait until another club is linked to a good young player, then to simply offer them and the selling team more money. Liverpool were eyeing Enzo Fernandez for the summer, but wouldn’t go near him after Chelsea put another £100m on the table…

This summer looks like it might follow a similar pattern. A few days back Fabrizio Romano confirmed Liverpool are targeting Gabi Veiga, the Celta Vigo midfielder who has a £35m release-clause.

He scores goals, can dribble and is a terrific technician; the perfect profile of what we need in the two no.10s for our new 3-box-3 formation.

Chelsea, a few days after we did, entered the race, obviously, according to the Guardian.

Any team can target who they want, but it doesn’t really make sense as they only just missed out on Manuel Ugarte to PSG, who is a completely different kind of midfielder and much more defensive. It strengthens the idea they’re simply buying good players, rather than via any particular strategy.

As Romano also stated in his report on Veiga, the Reds also want Kephren Thuram and Manu Kone, two French midfielders have defensive nous, immense physicality and great running through the middle.

Klopp is clearly trying to bulk up the midfield options in terms of strength, speed and robustness, which given how our stalwarts in this position have now lost their legs, makes total sense.

We need available, hungry, physical monsters in our midfield. Players who can press, fight, but also do what’s required tactically with the ball at their feet.

Liverpool need to act fast, not only to get the new players in quickly so they can adapt to their new squad and Klopp’s demands, but before rivals, such as Chelsea or Newcastle, enter the fray.

The reality is financially, we can’t (or at least won’t…) compete with FSG at the helm, so you can see why the club is targeting these players with release-clauses such as Mac Allister and Veiga. Thuram and Kone also play for clubs in Nice and Borussia Monchengladbach who need to sell this summer.

It’s why you won’t see Liverpool going in for Declan Rice or Jude Bellingham this window. Both excellent, both extremely expensive.

New sporting director Jorg Schmadtke has his work cut out. Not only does he need to get two new midfielders over the line, but a right-back and a centre-back. He then needs to make profit on Fabio Carvalho and Caoimhin Kelleher.

Then, we can start thinking about our sporting targets for the new season. Given the manner of the rebuild and the ages of the players we’re targeting, top four should perhaps be the initial goal of Klopp 2.0.