Real Madrid are reportedly ready to sell Karim Benzema to Liverpool, with Premier League rivals Arsenal also said to be keen on the attacker.
Spanish source Diario Gol reported “Real president Florentino Perez is interested in selling the striker to Liverpool, despite receiving additional offers from both Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund” (h/t the Daily Mirror).
Benzema is valued at a whopping £92 million, per the Mirror. It’s a hefty fee, even though Benzema has been prolific during his time in the Spanish capital.
The former Olympique Lyonnais star endured a down season in 2016/17, scoring just 11 times in La Liga, per WhoScored.com. However, Benzema also provided five assists, evidence of the Frenchman’s enduring value as a link player.
Benzema boasts terrific technique and natural flair to go with the qualities of a target man. He can play with his back to goal and also loves to drift to the left. His fluid movement and creative temperament dovetail well with wide forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Those qualities would make Benzema a perfect fit at Anfield, where Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has constructed a free-flowing team around roving wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool don’t have a natural No. 9 in the Benzema mold to regularly call upon. Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings are all susceptible to injury.
Instead, Klopp usually relies on Roberto Firmino as his striker. Yet the Brazilian is naturally an attacking midfielder, so he typically performs as a false nine.
Firmino’s ability to drop deep could become doubly important if playmaker Philippe Coutinho leaves. The Brazilian submitted a transfer request amid interest from Barcelona.
Barca are reportedly “preparing a fourth bid of £138 [million] before the transfer deadline” for Coutinho, according to Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports News.
If Liverpool banked such a fee for the wantaway Coutinho, they would be able to afford to capitalise on Real’s reported willingness to offload Benzema.
One player Liverpool may be more willing to sell is centre-back Mamadou Sakho. The Frenchman, who was on loan at Crystal Palace last season, has emerged as a target for West Bromwich Albion.
Baggies manager Tony Pulis is ready to bid £30 million for Sakho, per John Percy of the Daily Telegraph. Percy noted how that move is dependent on whether West Brom sell skipper Jonny Evans to Manchester City.
Sakho’s time at Liverpool appears up despite the fact he was Liverpool’s best defender during the 2015/16 season. However, James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo has detailed exactly why Klopp remains at odds with Sakho:
“The fact is the writing was on the wall for Sakho when he was sent home in disgrace from Liverpool’s pre-season tour of America 13 months ago. Late for the team flight, late for a team meal and failing to turn up to treatment sessions, he riled the manager with his bad attitude and lack of professionalism.
“Sakho was already on thin ice after the doping row with UEFA. He was eventually cleared of taking a banned substance but had broken club rules by using a fat burner without Liverpool’s blessing.”
Taking a hard-line stance with Sakho is commendable but still a major risk for Liverpool. After all, defensive problems remain common for Klopp’s men, who have conceded six times through four matches in all competitions to start this season.
Dejan Lovren has been unconvincing, while Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan can’t match the pace and power Sakho possesses.
Klopp’s squad could use some additional muscle in attack, but it’s defensively where the biggest concerns exist. It means a pursuit of Benzema may be a luxury the Reds can’t afford, while relaxing his stance on Sakho may be a decision Klopp can’t avoid.