Liverpool have been in talks with Sven Botman’s agent, who expects the Reds to make a January bid for the Lille defender, according to reports. The French club are said to be willing to sell the player, an international team-mate of Gini Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk, for less than £20million.
The Premier League champions are without the services of first-choice centre-halves Van Dijk and Joe Gomez due to knee injuries and the duo face a fight to play again this term.
While Joel Matip has also struggled with knocks again and the Cameroonian has picked up an adductor strain that will rule him out for three weeks.
That has left Fabinho as Liverpool’s most reliable centre-back with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams expected to partner the Brazilian over the coming weeks.
But Duncan Castles, speaking on Reach PLC’s Transfer Window Podcast, claims that Liverpool have begun discussions over a January move for 20-year-old Botman, who has impressed in Ligue 1 this term.
Only signed in the summer from Ajax, the young Dutchman has played every minute for second-placed Lille this season with Les Dogues suffering just one defeat in 17 games and boasting the second-best record in the division, better only by Paris Saint-Germain.
Castles insists Liverpool have been in talks with Botman’s agent, who believes the Merseyside club will make an offer for the player once the window opens despite claims they would not be looking to sign any new players in the winter.
He said: “I think the last report we did we said that that Liverpool’s strategy was to wait through December and see how they got on with Fabinho at centre-back and with the youngsters or other midfielders alongside him, to see if they could get through that difficult period in a strong position before deciding whether they act or not.
“Dayot Upamecano we mentioned was a strong candidate but he’s also an expensive candidate.
“What they’re working on according to my information is a deal for a player who would be significantly cheaper.
“That is Sven Botman, who is in his first season at Lille, transferred from Ajax in the summer for an initial €8million (£7million). He has been outstanding at Lille,” Castles said
“Called up to the full Netherlands international squad in November, he’s still very young, turns 21 next month. He’s tall and quick and I think this is one of the things that factors into Liverpool’s assessment, he’s incredibly strong one-on-one.
“In one statistical analysis he’s the best one-on-one duels in the big five leagues across Europe this season.
“Obviously that’s important when you play Liverpool’s way, you need a player who can win head-to-head against opponents, who can win aerial balls, Klopp likes to get his defenders from time to time to gamble and win the ball from the opposition to start attacks.
“I think he’s well suited statistically and we know from a statistical perspective that’s important to Liverpool’s recruitment.
“He’s also well suited to where he is at the moment. Lille have very significant financial difficulties. The club has just been sold by their previous owner Gerard Lopez to Merlyn Partners.
“French football in general is struggling financially outside of PSG because of the broadcast deal they have and non-payments that are coming from one of their major broadcast partners.
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“My understanding is that Lille would be willing to sell the player probably for twice and a little bit more what they paid Ajax for him in the summer.
“You’re looking at a 20-year-old just turning international defender who has fantastic statistical attributes that you can get for a price way below any similar talent in the English league.
“Liverpool have done this kind of thing before, it’s a good fit for their strategy. My information is that they have been calling and speaking to Botman’s agent.
“Botman’s agent likes the sounds of the conversations and believes there is a strong possibility that they will decide to make an offer for the player in January.”
The January transfer window opens on New Year’s Day but Liverpool are not expected to do a great deal of business aside from the potential addition of a new centre-back.
Klopp signed Kostas Tsimikas, Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota in the summer but all three have suffered long-term injuries at Anfield.