Liverpool can finally transform their attack by signing a stunning £50m forward this summer
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The January transfer window hasn’t even been closed for a week, but the rumour mill is already cranking away, churning out reports of signings that could be made next summer – and a new report from HITC suggests that Liverpool are looking to upgrade their attack by re-entering the market for Juventus forward Federico Chiesa.
The 26-year-old was widely rumoured to be a transfer target for the Reds in the summer of 2023, but the alleged asking price of around £50m proved to be a stumbling block with Liverpool not keen to spend more than £35m or so. With no agreement reached, the deal for the Italy international fizzled out.
Now, however, there is reason for Liverpool to be optimistic that an agreement could be reached next summer, as Juve struggle to get Chiesa nailed down with a new deal. His current contract, worth around £145,000 per week, runs down at the end of next season and that means that he would be within the last year of his deal come the summer – and perfectly positioned, therefore, to seek a move away if he wants one.
Many fans outside of Italy think of Chiesa primarily as a wide forward, and he can certainly still play on the left flank as a right-footed inverted winger – but it’s in a support striker role that Chiesa has put in his best performances over the last couple of seasons, and that could easily be where Liverpool look to play him given that they have yet to find a suitable replacement for the link-up work of Roberto Firmino, who left the club at the end of the last season.
Liverpool have plenty of superb wingers, but the centre-forward role has been more of an issue. Darwin Núñez offers plenty of physicality and his movement is exceptional, but the accuracy of his finishing, or rather the lack of it, has become a standing joke in the Premier League. In Darwin's defence, he has already managed seven assists in the league this year, which puts him on track to reach Firmino's high watermark of 10, but he isn't quite as good at dropping back to create room for the other strikers as the Brazilian once was, and nor is he as composed in front of goal. Other forwards, such as Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota, have impressed in flashes but have not consistently performed in that slot.
Which is where Chiesa could well come in. He’s a very different player from Firmino in many ways, but as a deep-lying central forward offers a lot of the qualities Liverpool want. He’s an excellent ball-carrier, has superb off-ball movement and the knack of finding space, is fast and able to run directly at centre-halves and can finish, too, including from range – important for a player looking for half-spaces around the edge of the area rather than trying to get into the thick of it in the six-yard box.
He's had some very fine patches of form this season, as well, scoring four in his first five Serie A games, all from a central supporting role, and has hit two in his last four as well, although those games have come over a span of nearly two months as minor injuries have sidelined him for several games.
Those injury issues may give Liverpool pause for thought and may have been a factor in the decision not to pursue a deal in the off-season. Chiesa missed a large part of 2022 with a cruciate ligament injury and has had several less serious issues since, missing six matches already this campaign.
But when he’s fit and firing, there is little doubt about Chiesa’s quality, and one could easily imagine him being a fine foil for players like Mohamed Salah. The fact that he hasn’t come to terms on a new deal in Turin implies at least some willingness to move on, as well, and if the price is right then he would likely be a fine signing for Liverpool – the best case being that he acts as a new version of Firmino, the worst that he offers another fine option on the flanks. Or at least, that’s the worst case if he remains fit consistently.
Liverpool are heading into a period of transition, with Jürgen Klopp leaving at the end of the season. The new manager, whoever they may be, might well want a new attacking paradigm at the club and that would almost be forced if Salah ends up leaving for Saudi Arabia, as has been so widely speculated. Chiesa may not fit so neatly into the new-look Liverpool of the 2024/25 season, and it’s unlikely that Liverpool seek to push too hard for a deal until they know what their next head coach wants from the summer transfer window.
But Chiesa is an excellent player with a fine track record, 76 Serie A goal contributions across his career, nearly 50 caps for Italy and is entering what should, injury issues willing, be his prime years. For a fee in the £35m region, which is what Liverpool hoped for last year, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t a risk worth taking. Whether that becomes a reality or not will depend on how Juve’s contract negotiations go – but they have already rumbled on since at least November with no end in sight. Their loss could easily be Liverpool’s gain.