Liverpool are believed to be stepping up their efforts to complete their first signing of the January transfer window. Brendan Rodgers has continually asserted that the club are working on adding new players to the squad, as has been done in each of his three previous transfer windows in charge. Progress may have been accelerated after owner John W. Henry’s visit to Merseyside over the weekend, when he watched Liverpool’s disappointing 2-2 result with Aston Villa.
It is the player with whom the Reds have been most fervently linked throughout the month that could well be their first capture. ESPN has reported that Liverpool are set to make a formal bid of £7 million for Basel winger Mohamed Salah. However, there are likely to be some lengthy negotiations still to come, with the Swiss club thought to be seeking around £12 million.
The Egypt international is rated highly across Europe, having played a major role in Basel’s run to the Europa League semifinals last season as well as scoring in both of his side’s victories over Chelsea in the Champions League this term.
Liverpool’s priorities in the transfer market may have changed, though, since Sunday. Lucas Leiva was forced off with a knee injury against Villa and it has subsequently been revealed that the Brazil international will be sidelined for up to two months. Hi absence leaves the Reds without a natural holding midfielder. Steven Gerrard’s lack of mobility and eagerness to drift forward was exposed when he occupied the role in the opening half against Villa, while Joe Allen lacks the combative nature of Lucas.
One name certainly not lacking in combativeness was almost immediately linked in various rumors with a move to Anfield, with the Daily Mail claiming that a loan move was being considered for Milan’s Nigel de Jong. Such a prospect always appeared unlikely, given that De Jong’s skill set is not exactly a fit for Rodgers’ passing philosophy and he has been a regular for Milan this season. Sure enough, ESPN has reported that Liverpool have no interest in the Netherlands international.
A midfielder for the longer term is also reportedly being considered. Talksport has claimed that Liverpool have begun negotiations to sign Red Ball Salzburg’s Valon Berisha. The 20-year-old Norway international is believed to have been watched by Liverpool representatives on more than one occasion in recent weeks. Berisha is said to be valued at around £2.5 million.
Liverpool are also set to allow a player to exit Anfield in January, albeit on a temporary basis. Defender Sebastian Coates is poised to join his former club Nacional on loan until the end of the season, in order to try and get first-team action ahead of the World Cup. The Uruguay international has been sidelined since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last August. Aiming to earn a trip to Brazil in the summer, Coates has revealed that he would relish temporarily rejoining the club from which he joined Liverpool for £7 million in 2011.
"It would be beautiful to join Nacional and complete my recovery in Uruguay with my family and friends," he told Radio El Espectador 810, reports The Guardian. "The negotiations can be hard sometimes and we have to wait a bit."