While Jurgen Klopp hasn’t given up on the prospect of keeping Emre Can beyond the summer, it appears that the German international will depart for Juventus once his contract runs out this summer. Having learned a lesson from the Philippe Coutinho sage, the Reds boss will be determined to line up a replacement rather than plug the gap following the sale. And he may have already found his man in the shape of Roma’s Kevin Strootman.
The already arranged arrival of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, which could yet be brought forward to this month, will certainly bolster the Reds midfield. However, the loss of Can will vacate a spot for someone to complete the defensive duties. The Dutch Destroyer could be the answer to those prayers.
Even with the arrival of Virgil van Dijk, Klopp’s defence need protection. Strootman’s game isn’t limited to defensive work alone, and he certainly has the technical gifts needed to get moves started, but those strengths would provide a shield in front of the backline. The 27-year-old has the physique needed for the demands of Premier League football while his intelligence off the ball is a key asset he breaks up the play.
While injuries hampered his 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, the Dutchman has been a key figure at the heart of Roma’s midfield and has all the attributes to replace Can and bring an even greater sense of defensive balance.
Strootman is unlikely to have any major problems settling into life at Anfield either. As noted by Dutch experts OnlineWedden.com, the Serie A star has linked up with both Van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum for the national side. That sense of familiarity with players that he’d be closely linked to on the pitch could prove to be pivotal.
This isn’t the first time that Strootman has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with several rumours circulating before suffering that injury that ruined his hopes of playing at the World Cup. After five years in the Italian capital, it appears that he is now ready to begin the next chapter.
Liverpool will face stiff competition for the midfielder’s signature. As per DailyExpress.com, French side Marseille are ready to battle the Reds while Manchester United are also reportedly monitoring the situation.
As things stand, Anfield remains the most likely destination and the fact that Klopp can wait until the summer (when Can departs) may swing things in the balance as Eusebio Di Francesco face a scrap for Champions League qualification. If Strootman was to leave the Stadio Olimpico now, finding a replacement before January 31st would prove to be difficult regardless of the fee fetched for the midfielder.
While replacing Coutinho must be considered the priority for this window, Klopp will not want to encounter a similar situation next summer. With conflicting reports suggesting a transfer fee of anywhere between €40m and €80m, Strootman certainly won’t come cheap. Still, if the Dutchman can provide a shield and transition defence into attack, it could be one of the most important signings of the manager’s reign.