An audacious Liverpool move for a Barcelona star has been slapped down, while Man Utd are emerging as a credible threat to hijack a second Reds deal, per reports.
The Daily Mail recently went hard on the prospect of Liverpool moving for Barcelona defender, Jules Kounde. Indeed, the 24-year-old only arrived at the Camp Nou from Sevilla last summer, though was stated to be unhappy at repeatedly being played out of position.
Kounde is a centre-back by trade, though has frequently been deployed at right-back by Barca boss Xavi.
As such, the Mail claimed Kounde would push to leave the Spanish giant this summer and was open to working with Jurgen Klopp despite the lack of Champions League football at Anfield next year. What’s more, the Mail even claimed Liverpool had thundered in with a bid.
However, that news has drawn a sharp response from Spain. Both Kounde and Xavi have addressed the speculation and it’s game over for the Reds.
Firstly, Kounde is quoted as telling broadcaster beIN Sports (via the Liverpool Echo): “So that it remains clear… my future? I will stay at Barcelona, of course.”
Secondly, Xavi told Spanish outlet AS regarding the Kounde exit speculation: “It is that there has been no case. It has been more a matter of the press.
“In fact, I had a conversation with Koundé a week ago with no problems. It is true that he is more comfortable as a centre-back than as a [full-back].
“They also made me play as a pivot and I was more comfortable later on, but many times I had to play as a pivot due to team circumstances and that was the conversation.
“I know you are central Jules, but due to circumstances of the script and the team has adapted very well.”
Man Utd threaten to hijack alternate deal
With that avenue firmly closed, German outlet Kicker recently reported Liverpool could instead move for Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard. Indeed, Liverpool had reportedly taken the first step towards making a move by lodging an enquiry.
Pavard is similar to Kounde in that he can play at both centre-back and right-back. While midfield additions will take centre stage at Liverpool this summer, Fabrizio Romano revealed new arrivals at centre-half and a back-up full-back are wanted. Kounde or Pavard could conceivably kill two birds with one stone in that regard.
Pavard, 27, is out of contract at Bayern at the end of the 2023/24 campaign. Per L’Equipe, he’ll not sign a new contract, thus making an exit this summer make perfect sense.
However, L’Equipe brought news of Man Utd installing the France international at the top of their defensive wishlist. Inter Milan and Barcelona will provide further competition for the versatile defender.
As such, both Kounde and Pavard may yet elude Jurgen Klopp. However, there is a ray of hope on the defensive additions front.
New sporting director, Jorg Schmadtke, is reportedly preparing to open talks with former club Wolfsburg over bringing 22-year-old Micky van de Ven to Anfield.
That’s via German outlet WAZ, with Klopp labelled a ‘huge fan’ of the 6ft 4in Dutch centre-half.