Liverpool's failed summer transfer targets: Where are they now?

The Reds were chasing a host of top stars during the summer, and in the end, landed neither of their two priority signings for this season at least. But how have those players been getting on?

Liverpool's failed summer transfer targets: Where are they now?
Virgil van Dijk was certainly one player Jurgen Klopp was desperate to land during the summer (Photo credit: Stephen Pond, Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp's refusal to accept second-best during the summer transfer window infuriated many supporters, and it would be fair to say the performance at the weekend changed no one’s mind.

Liverpool have been defensively porous on numerous occasions, not least against Tottenham Hotspur, and failure to sign a centre-back is looking increasingly like a huge error of judgement.

In midfield, the trio of Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can, often labelled as being blunt and lacking in creativity when utilised last season, have been called upon again this season in the absence of Adam Lallana and Sadio Mané.

In attack, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a tough start, although he was a bright spark when he came on at Wembley on Sunday.

But how have those players who Liverpool coveted most during the summer transfer window been getting on? Could any of them have proven to have made a significant difference to the team had they been acquired?

Virgil van Dijk

The classy Dutch defender was the man most wanted at the start of the window, but despite Liverpool convincing him to turn down Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in favour of them, the deal never got done as Southampton dug their heels in.

The south-coast club, tired of losing their best players to Liverpool on an annual basis, decided enough was enough, and even when he went on strike and was forced to train with the under-23s, they stuck to their word on Van Dijk.

He made his comeback for the Saints against Crystal Palace in a 0-1 victory, returning from a long-term injury as well as being reintegrated into the first team having been banished from training with them weeks earlier.

In the early stages of his return, it looked like he was struggling, but now Van Dijk’s fitness has increased, he is getting closer to the levels he reached last season.

The defender was particularly impressive against Newcastle United in the recent 2-2 draw, and kept a clean sheet against West Brom on Saturday evening.

There is no doubt that Van Dijk would have made a massive difference to Liverpool's side, underlined by Dejan Lovren’s showing at Wembley.

There remains a significant chance that he will make the move to Anfield either in January or next summer, by which time he should be fully fit again.

That might explain why Jurgen Klopp was reluctant to settle for a plan B, knowing he is likely to land his number one target in the near future, although that will make watching Liverpool's defensive errors in the meantime no easier to stomach.

Naby Keita

Another key target, the Reds did secure Keita, but not until summer 2018. They originally had bids of up to £70 million turned down, but exploited a release clause due to come into effect next year to bag their man before the rest of Europe joined in the pursuit.

This season, though, has not been as smooth as last season for the dynamic midfielder. Perhaps his mind is elsewhere.

He has one goal and one assist so far in the Bundesliga, but has five yellow cards and has been sent off twice.

The first time was against Borussia Monchengladbach in mid-September, for a foul similar to the one Sadio Mané was sent off for against Manchester City on goalkeeper Ederson Morais. Keita’s challenge was on Christoph Kramer.

The second was nearly a month later, this time for his country, Guinea, against Tunisia – another straight red card, this time for a flailing arm. He had put his nation in front earlier in the game, but was given his marching orders in stoppage time right near the end.

It could easily have been three red cards but he was taken off at half-time against Borussia Dortmund when already on a yellow and teetering close to seeing a second.

His best performance of the season so far probably came against FC Porto in the Champions League when he was instrumental in a 3-2 victory for RB Leipzig.

Liverpool will be hoping he can play in Europe’s elite competition for them next season. Qualifying for that competition is now priority number one again.  

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Thomas Lemar

A late bid went in for the AS Monaco star, with Liverpool offering around £65 million. They would have been prepared to go as high as £75 million, but the French side stood firm having already lost a host of players including Bernardo Silva, who departed for Manchester City, and Kylian Mbappé, who went to league rivals Paris-Saint Germain.

The Frenchman has had a very poor start to the season, regularly scoring a rating of just 3 or 4 out of 10 in French newspaper L’Equipe.

He was scintillating last season as his team progressed to the Champions League semi-finals and were the surprise package of the competition, scoring goals for fun, but Lemar is yet to register this campaign in any competition.

His team find themselves bottom of their Champions League group at the halfway stage, whilst they are six points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1.

The suggestion is that Lemar will be allowed to leave the French principality next summer, but his price-tag may be significantly lower than the quote in September if his form does not improve.

Arsenal and Tottenham are among the other clubs keeping an eye on him.