Liverpool raise transfer suspicions after spotting similarity with Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe

Liverpool: Klopp opens up on transfer plans for January

Liverpool are reportedly surprised by links with a January move for Lille defender Sven Botman, with the club having no interest in the player. The situation is said to be similar to speculation linking the Reds with Nicolas Pepe back in 2019 before the winger left Lille to join Arsenal.

At the time, reports claimed that Liverpool were closing in on a deal for Pepe but, according to a report from the Athletic, there was no interest from the club.

The report claims that Liverpool believe their name was being used in an attempt to raise Pepe’s value.

They were so annoyed by the constant links that sporting director Michael Edwards is said to have contacted Lille to make it clear they were not interested in the winger.

Pepe ultimately joined Arsenal for what was a club-record outlay for the Gunners of £72m.

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Now, it is claimed that Liverpool believe a similar tactic is in play with Botman, with a senior Anfield source telling the Athletic: “There’s zero interest in Botman.

“He’s not even under consideration for the summer window.”

Liverpool have a number of injury problems in defence at the moment, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Joel Matip also out of action.

Makeshift defender Fabinho has also had fitness issues this season and Jurgen Klopp deployed him at centre-back alongside fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson in Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Monday.

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As a result, speculation has been rife that Liverpool will sign a new centre-back in January and club legend Jamie Carragher believes a signing is needed if they are to win the Premier League this season.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Carragher said: “It’s a massive worry, but it’s not a new worry. Joel Matip will not play every game between now and the end of the season.

“We knew that even before the injury today, that’s why it’s paramount Liverpool sign somebody in January. I said that as soon as Virgil van Dijk had his injury against Everton.

“Fabinho’s gone there and looked like a top-class centre-back in that position, so maybe people at the club felt the need wasn’t as urgent. But Joel Matip is too injury prone, his body can’t take the rigour of playing Premier League football week in, week out, we know that since he joined, he’s a really good player.

“I still believe Liverpool are the best team in this league, even without Van Dijk and I think most people would say they’re favourites to win the Premier League. The only way they don’t win it is if they have problems at centre-back, where Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips have to play for a prolonged period of time.

“The odd game now and again, they’ve done fantastic, but I know, since that’s the position I played, it’s not really a position for young players as such. At times they will make mistakes as they’re young players, they’re learning.

“That’s the only way that could cost Liverpool, and I don’t necessarily mean bringing in a centre-back for £70-80 million like a Van Dijk type of signing, and not necessarily someone to go straight into the team. Just someone there so that Liverpool don’t end up with two young lads at some stage for five or six weeks if Fabinho was to go down injured.

“At this moment, Liverpool have one senior centre-back who is available this season and he’s injury prone, so they have to do something in January.”

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