The cheeky hack that could solve Liverpool’s midfield crisis and save them millions

The Reds are still on the hunt for a new midfielder having missed out on both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Let me start with a disclaimer: the article you are about to read is only partway facetious. You may dismiss it, or sneer at it a touch, but the more I mull it over, the more I think there might be a certain amount of merit to the argument I’m about to make. (That being said, it would be concerning if I felt there was absolutley no merit to an argument I was about to make.)

With that in mind, here goes. As you will be aware of by now, Moises Caicedo has left Brighton. For a while, it looked as if he was joining Chelsea. Then for a while it looked as if he was going to join Liverpool. You don’t need me to tell you which club he opted for in the end.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now, the Ecuadorian’s departure means two things. In the first instance, it means that Liverpool’s desperate quest for defensive midfield reinforcements drags on a little longer. In the second, it means Brighton will require some kind of replacement. To that end, if reports are to be believed, Albion have already been busy.

According to the Daily Mail, the Seagulls have opened talks with Ligue 1 outfit Lille over a potential £15 million deal for Cameroonian midfielder Carlos Baleba. Aged just 19, the precocious talent is a well-rounded, left-footed presence in the centre of the park who is being widely touted as one of the most promising players in European football. As one Premier League scout, quoted by the Mail, said: ‘There is very little missing in his game. He has speed, technical ability, aggression, and intelligence. He will develop more physically too as he’s only 19.’

The stats support that viewpoint too; no player under the age of 21 has averaged more dribbles or interceptions in the French top flight per 90 minutes over the course of the past calendar year than Baleba, and the expectation is that he will only improve from here onwards. Evidently, there is a real player in there, and arguably there is no greater hallmark of that fact than Brighton’s apparent interest in bringing him to England.

In recent seasons, Albion have made considerable profits on the likes of the aforementioned Caicedo, Robert Sanchez, Marc Cucurella, Yves Bissouma, Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister, and homegrown defender Ben White. At the time of writing, their squad boasts such prodigious members as Evan Ferguson, Kaoru Mitoma, and Julio Enciso, amid countless others. (Simon Adingra, for what it’s worth, is one in particular to watch this season.)

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In short, the work conducted by their scouting department is superlative, and time and time again they display this knack for unearthing hidden gems that other clubs either miss entirely or aren’t willing to take a gamble on. (There will, no doubt, have been a few blushing cheeks around Old Trafford last week as Chelsea paid £115 million for a player who Manchester United could have signed for around 1/23 of that price tag just a couple of years ago.)

And that brings us back to Liverpool. The Reds need midfield reinforcements, and Brighton have seemingly identified their next unassuming superstar. So here’s my tentative proposal - why not just cut out the middle man and sign Baleba directly from Lille? If recent trends are anything to go by, Liverpool are only going to be bidding for him in 2025 anyways, and by the time that transfer saga rolls around, he could be worth upwards of £100 million. Save yourself some money, lads, save yourself some time - sign him now.

Now obviously, there are some flaws to this scheme. For one thing, Baleba is by no means the finished article; among other slight issues, he shoots far too often and his positional awareness still requires some fine tuning. Likewise, you could certainly make an argument for Liverpool needing somebody with a touch more experience to shore up such a pivotal position at the base of their midfield.

But the broader point is that there are players out there to be discovered who would cost the top six half as much - and in some cases be twice as effective - as the current slew of acquisitions they are pursuing. The long term solution is to improve scouting at a less auspicious level to ensure that these talents become apparent much sooner.

In the immediacy, however, the best idea might be to find out who Brighton are chasing and just copy their A+ homework.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.