Liverpool’s Aurelien Tchouameni setback far from biggest transfer problem this summer

A personal intervention from Jurgen Klopp could not deter Aurelien Tchouameni from his Real Madrid dream.

The Liverpool boss reportedly called the France international in an attempt to convince the in-demand midfielder to make the move to Anfield this summer. However, Tchouameni is now said to have reached a verbal agreement to join the Champions League holders in a deal worth in excess of £85 million.

The Monaco star was a name linked with Liverpool for much of the season, with a host of Europe’s elite including Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain also credited with an interest in the 22-year-old. Tchouameni made 50 appearances in all competitions for the Ligue One side this season, and has already earned 10 caps for his country after only making his senior debut in September last year.

Tchouameni’s snub will prove a setback for Liverpool in a window where the Reds have clearly identified a new central midfielder as a priority. James Milner has agreed a contract extension, but reports suggest the club are open to offers for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the England international entering the final year of his deal.

Barcelona wonderkid Gavi and Leeds United stalwart Kalvin Phillips are the latest names linked to potentially fill the midfield void. But with Real’s interest making a move for Tchouameni look something of an ambitious long shot, Liverpool have a far more pressing transfer priority to address.

Sadio Mane’s future has dominated the headlines since the Champions League final defeat, with the Senegal international seemingly set on a new challenge this summer. The 30-year-old has enjoyed six successful seasons on Merseyside, but is now angling for an exit with just one year left on his contract.

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Sadio Mane is expected to leave Liverpool this summer
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Bayern Munich are the club most strongly linked with a move for Mane, with reports suggesting the Bundesliga champions have already had an approach knocked back. Claims on Liverpool’s price tag for the forward also vary, with several reports suggesting the FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners are looking for a deal in excess of £40 million.

Klopp already has Golden Boot winner Mo Salah on the right – although the Egyptian superstar’s future also looks far from certain – and January transfer sensation Luis Diaz on the left. Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino are all capable of playing through the middle.

However, none of these possess the consistency and versatility Mane has displayed throughout his Reds career. It is for this very reason that Jamie Carragher named the former Southampton star as his favourite Liverpool player.

The pundit told Sky Sports last month: “You’d always find a place in the front three for him. When Diaz came in and he started so well, he wants to play on the left which is Mane’s position. Salah’s always going to play on the right, then he’s in a fight with [Diogo] Jota, who’s a scoring sensation since he’s come to Liverpool.

“I love him, I absolutely love him to bits. Not just because he’s a great player and for what he’s done for Liverpool, I wouldn’t say he’s sacrificed himself but he initially came in on the right wing, then Salah came in and he moved to the left.

“He’s then fantastic on the left, Diaz came in on the left and he moved to centre-forward. He’s always moving for someone else, but his performances don’t drop, he’s still producing.”

Mane’s expected exit has inevitably led to Liverpool being linked to a host of Europe’s elite forward. However, very few of these options possess the consistent returns across the front line which the Reds have come to count upon.

Darwin Nunez perhaps comes closest to fitting this bill, with the Benfica star enjoying a standout campaign and delivering in both a central role and on the left flank. However, the Uruguay international remains unproven at the top level and the likely bidding war could price Liverpool out of a move.

Tchouameni’s snub is a disappointment for the Reds, albeit not a surprising one. However, the search for an alternative central midfielder pales in comparison to the task facing Klopp in replacing Mane.

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