Which free agents could Liverpool target in 2018?

Naby Keita is already a confirmed arrival at Anfield next summer, but which free options could the Reds opt to plump for as well?

Which free agents could Liverpool target in 2018?
Leon Goretzka celebrates scoring for his current team, Schalke 04, who he is almost certain to depart from next summer (Photo credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos, Getty Images)

It’s not even December and already talk of Liverpool's transfer targets for January and beyond is rife. In truth, it has been ever since the summer transfer window closed at the end of August.

Behind the scenes, Liverpool's scouts – and the infamous transfer committee – will already be vociferously working on targets.

Most fans get excited by big-money moves, but is there more value to be found in the market?

Liverpool have been on both sides of the Bosman ruling: Steve McManaman left for free to Real Madrid and Emre Can is likely to depart in the same manner, whilst Joel Matip is just one of a few that have arrived on Merseyside without a transfer fee.

Next summer, there is a raft of stars who are coming to the end of their contracts. Any overseas players can be tied down on pre-contract agreements from January onwards, as Matip was, with a view to arriving during the summer.

From Lionel Messi to Alexis Sanchez via Mario Balotelli, there are a number of well-known players available.

Some of those – Messi, for instance – are likely to sign news deals, or would be unattainable anyway, but who are the players that Jurgen Klopp potentially might be interested in?

Leon Goretzka

Liverpool have long been linked with the German midfielder, not least since he made a huge impact at the Confederations Cup, which his country won in July.

That was the first time he had been exposed to most English viewers, and since then, he has cemented a place in his national team squad and scored a sensational backheel goal for them in a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan last month.

The Schalke 04 man is in high demand. Tottenham, Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are all interested, but with Emre Can appearing more and more likely to be departing, Goretzka would be the perfect replacement.

The Reds would be far less averse to losing one German midfielder for free if they could freely replace him with another of equal or better ability.

His passing range and athleticism would suit the Premier League, and Germany’s general manager Oliver Bierhoff appeared to suggest that Goretzka’s next move will be to England when he was interviewed by The Guardian last week.

Whilst those quotes may have been misconstrued or misunderstood – he later claimed that talk of Goretzka moving to England and following former Schalke man Leroy Sané was purely hypothetical – it would surprise no one if his destination was England.

Goretzka is almost certain to move – the only question is where to, with a long line of suitors.

Jose Giminez

It is no secret that Liverpool desire a centre back or two.

It is also no secret that Jurgen Klopp wants Virgil van Dijk to be one of those, but with question marks lingering over both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, and with an ageing Ragnar Klavan as back-up, signing another would be a good idea.

The Uruguayan has interested Manchester United and Arsenal in the past, and currently has a £56 million release clause, showing how highly his side rates him.

The reason he is running his contract down is because he wants that clause to be reduced, with no one as yet prepared to pay it.

The Atlético Madrid man is fast and physical, and is vastly experienced player considering he only 22, having played in the Champions League and represented his country and a World Cup and two Copa Americas.

Giminez has admitted in the past he dreams of a Premier League move, and Liverpool are in need of someone in his position. They could do far worse than make an approach.

Stefan De Vrij

Another centre back option that Liverpool could pursue is Lazio’s Dutch defender De Vrij. The Reds were linked with him in the summer, but a move never materialised, but he certainly could be one to take a look at in future.

Lazio are hopeful that he will sign a new deal, but even then a relatively modest €25 million release clause is mooted to be in the offing. Even that would represent good value.

Juventus are supposedly interested in signing him, whilst Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal have all shown interest in the past, and if he was to become available for free, many more would likely join the queue.

Perhaps Lazio teammate Lucas could give Liverpool an endorsement.

Faouzi Ghoulam

With Alberto Moreno having the best season of his Liverpool tenure so far, signing a left-back might not be considered a priority, especially with Andy Robertson not even getting a look at the moment, but Ghoulam was of interest last summer, when the Spaniard appeared to be on his way out.

At 24, the Algeria and Napoli player was also a target for both Manchester City and Chelsea in the summer, as a back-up for respective primary targets Benjamin Mendy, who City secured, and Alex Sandro, who in the end remained at Juventus.

Ghoulam recently suffered a serious ACL tear in his right knee, so will be out for the rest of the season, but whilst that ordinarily would be a risky move to sign a player just coming back from such a long lay-off, signing him on a free transfer would represent less of a gamble.

He might be the lowest priority of all the potential targets, and could still be persuaded to sign a new deal to remain in Naples, but it would be remiss not to consider Ghoulam in future having taken a look at him last summer.