Liverpool made right transfer call on Dominik Szoboszlai alternative who cost $26m less

Klopp press conference

Liverpool could have signed a ‘class’ midfielder for a fee considerably lower than the release clause for Dominik Szoboszlai, but he may not have fit the plan.

The Premier League transfer season appears to be kicking off as Liverpool quietly plans its next move (and a deal for Dominik Szoboszlai is imminent as of this writing).

Declan Rice, a midfielder for West Ham, was acquired by Arsenal on Wednesday for a British record-breaking $132 million (£105 million/€122 million). This appears to be the most high-profile trade of the summer.


But just down the road, Tottenham’s bitter rival paid Leicester $50 million (£40 million/€46 million) for James Maddison in a transaction that went unnoticed during the fuss around Rice, suggesting that they may have gotten a better deal.

A stunning relegation from the Premier League forced Leicester to sell its finest players, and Maddison was about to reach the final year of his contract there. Despite this, $50 million still seems like a good deal.

The 26-year-old is a proven Premier League player who has appeared ready-made for a high club for a number of years now. He is an England international who has made Gareth Southgate’s previous three teams, including the World Cup roster.

James Maddison

In 163 top-flight games while playing primarily in midfield for Leicester, Maddison has scored or assisted 77 goals, which are exceptional numbers at this level.

It’s not shocking that a few pundits have called for Liverpool to make a move.

Former Reds defender Glen Johnson said to Betfred that James Maddison is most likely the only player from the demoted clubs with the class to play for Chelsea or Liverpool. A different source, Football League World, quoted former England international Carlton Palmer as saying that Maddison “would be a tremendous signing for Liverpool.”

If Liverpool is to make the most of its present system, it has to replace Jordan Henderson with a specialized offensive midfielder who can push for double digits in goals and assists as well as press fervently out of possession. For Leicester, Maddison has routinely performed that.

Szoboszlai, however, would be a better fit for Liverpool’s pressing style of play, even if they had to spend a little bit more. In addition, the Hungarian is four years younger.

That likely explains why Liverpool didn’t sign Maddison as quickly as it did Alexis Mac Allister for $44 million (£35 million/€41 million), even if a discounted deal appeared to be an equally appealing opportunity.

In the end, though, it’s obvious that Liverpool believes it can find better value elsewhere, as it would have undoubtedly joined the competition for Maddison.

Many of the Reds’ midfield targets this summer have one thing in common: they are all young. Players with significant ties to the club include Szoboszlai, Gabri Veiga, Manu Koné, Khéphren Thuram, Ryan Gravenberch, and Roméo Lavia, all of whom are between the ages of 19 and 22.

Maddison isn’t old enough to make you worry about an impending loss in her abilities. Rather, he is likely only entering his prime because his 27th birthday is in November.

The individuals on Liverpool’s shortlist inspire the Reds to consider even longer-term options. They might feel that signing a young player who is likely to sign two long-term contracts during their stay at the club is a better investment than pursuing a guy like Maddison who might only sign one.

Even if you initially pay a little bit more, you might eventually get a bigger return on your investment.

Liverpool might have come to rue its stance on Maddison if not for Szoboszlai. However, Liverpool should actually be trusted to make the proper decisions given its track record when it does join the market.

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