Liverpool could have a rare opportunity to conduct a transfer raid on Chelsea, securing an ideal player for Jürgen Klopp’s rebuilding project in the process.
Contingency plans are no bad thing. In the transfer market, they can be essential. Liverpool got the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané as ‘second choices’ — on the other side of the coin, their failure to move on from missing out on Aurélien Tchouaméni this summer cost them dearly.
As such, the news that Chelsea are preparing such a plan for the eventuality that one of their star names leaves Stamford Bridge speaks to little more than good organisation on the part of the new hierarchy. Even so, the whispers that a transfer could be in the offing for a young player with more than 100 Premier League appearances to his name should cause those at Liverpool to sit up and pay attention.
Currently, Mason Mount is in no imminent danger of leaving. The 23-year-old has enjoyed a mini-renaissance in the early going under Graham Potter, and the intention is still very much to tie him down to a longer deal at Chelsea. But the Telegraph reports that alternative plans are being made as the talks continue to ‘drag on’.
Funnily enough, Liverpool have been linked with the so-called contingency plan: Yéremy Pino of Villarreal. But they might be better off going straight to the source, and launching an audacious bid for Mount himself.
As things stand, next summer will be Chelsea’s last opportunity to cash in on Mount. While they would typically be reluctant to conduct business with a rival, the situation may force their hand. Likewise, new man Todd Boehly has proved far more receptive to intra-big-six deals than his predecessor.
On Liverpool’s end, the deal makes plenty of sense too. Capable of playing in the front three or as the most advanced midfielder, Mount could fill numerous different roles for Jürgen Klopp. His age profile is exactly what the club need right now — a blend of youth and top-level experience, bridging the gap between the raw prospects and the ageing veterans.
In terms of how he plays, there could hardly be a better player for Klopp. Over the last year, the Chelsea man averages more than 20 pressures per 90 minutes: well above the average when compared to either midfielders or wingers. Meanwhile, when it comes to output, he is highly productive.
Significantly, Mount also has a near-enough spotless injury history. That’s rare for any player, but particularly for a ‘pressing monster’ of this ilk. Klopp would be able to ask him to go again and again without running too much of a risk.
Then there are all the usual benefits about buying a homegrown talent. And, in a departure from the norm, his contract situation means Liverpool may not have to pay such a massive premium for this advantage.
In all likelihood, the Chelsea contingency plan will remain as just that, and the contract situation will be resolved. But as the possibility of a transfer chance edges ever nearer, Liverpool must be alert to what would be an excellent opportunity.