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Liverpool take ‘first place’ in top performing midfielder race, but tough deal will cost Jurgen Klopp big

Liverpool are fronting the queue to sign Piotr Zielinski who is quickly becoming Napoli’s talisman, though a deal is far from straightforward, per a report.

Liverpool’s midfield has often been praised for combining to be greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, goals and assists from midfield are a rarity compared to club’s like Manchester City for example.

The workmanlike nature of many of Jurgen Klopp’s options allows for others to shine in the attacking areas. Without the selfless displays of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and co. Liverpool’s full-backs and forwards would not have the stable platform from which to thrive.

Nonetheless, the signing of Thiago Alcantara last season hinted Klopp was seeking a sprinkling of stardust in midfield.

Now, Sport Witness (citing Calciomercato), reveal the Reds are eyeing another attack-minded option.

They state Liverpool have long been admirers of Poland international, Piotr Zielinski. The 27-year-old currently plays for Napoli, though Liverpool’s interest reportedly dates back to his Udinese days.

At present, the attacking midfielder is in the form of his life in Naples. He has notched five goals and five assists in Serie A this season. As such, he is currently considered ‘one of the best midfielders for performance’ in Italy right now.

Liverpool’s interest is ‘likely to increase’ if he maintains his stellar form. However, the report reveals why a deal is far from straightforward.

Napoli ‘sheltered’ from Zielinski approaches

Firstly, Zielinski signed a new contract in August, 2020. His deal runs until 2024, meaning Napoli hold the upper hand in negotiations.

They are under no pressure to sell and would therefore hold out for a high price if Liverpool came calling.

A report over the summer hinted Zielinski held a whopping £94m release clause in his contract.

However, it was stipulated Napoli could do business for the more reasonable sum of £60m. Whether Liverpool would play ball for a fee in that region remains unclear.

Man City had been linked with Zielinski over the summer, though the club’s frosty relationship with Napoli ensured a deal was difficult.

City came close to landing Jorginho from Napoli in 2018, only to see Chelsea swoop in at the last minute.

Frank Lampard and Diego Martinez head potential replacements for Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa

Lijnders hints at big changes for cup clash

Meanwhile, Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders has hinted at big changes for Liverpool’s League Cup quarter-final clash with Leicester at Anfield on Wednesday night.

The Reds have been playing through the current Covid outbreak that has hit Premier League and EFL clubs and are conscious of burnout to their top stars. With that in mind, Lijnders, speaking in place of Jurgen Klopp, admitted that changes have to be made for the Foxes clash.

He said: “We don’t look at games like this, we only look to improve our team. What’s more important is what we are going to do rather than who is going to play.

“If you saw our line-up against AC Milan away, everyone was probably thinking ‘wow, that’s brave’ and we only thought ‘game on’.

“At the beginning of the season we say to the players that we want to make memories together. We want to create special games together and with the fans together, and that’s what we are going to do tomorrow.

“We’ll try to make it a cup night for the fans, full of desire with all we have. But for that we need fresh legs as well. We will prepare for a strong Leicester team.”

READ MORE: Paper Talk: Liverpool deal to be Chelsea’s salvation with shock Real Madrid move touted

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