Arne Slot handed Liverpool reunion transfer blow as Chelsea make double decision

Orkun Kokcu
-Credit: (Image: Carlos Rodrigues)


Arne Slot comes to Liverpool with a good basis to work on but the new head coach at Anfield is set to use his experience in the Eredivisie to improve his squad for the new season.

One of the positions that is almost certain to be prioritised is midfield. Jurgen Klopp signed four players last summer and all were midfielders with Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch all arriving.

Despite the options, the German failed to settle on a certain trio and Slot's job will be on deciding on a preferred midfield three. Focus is already on the summer transfer window and the Dutchman has been linked with a number of reunions on Merseyside.

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Reports this week claimed that the Reds were keen on signing Benfica playmaker Orkun Kokcu, who was Slot's captain at Feyenoord before he moved to Portugal for £21m last summer.

Kokcu, who has a reported £128m release clause in his contract, finished the 2023/24 season in fine form for Benfica despite them finishing 10 points behind champions Sporting CP. The Turkey international is capable of playing as a No.6, No.8 and No.10 meaning he could prove to be smart business.

However, it seems as though Benfica have no intention of letting one of their star players leave this summer. "I like him more today than I did a year ago when I saw him," president Rui Costa said in an interview with BTV.

"He's a player with fantastic characteristics who hasn't been able to express his full potential. But it's clear that he's a player of the highest standard. The team's dynamism and way of playing didn't benefit his main characteristics, but that's also part of a player's life.

"And we mustn't forget that there was a kid who ended up making a name for himself, and his name is João Neves. But this is a player [Kökcü] with fantastic characteristics and a bright future, who has quality and charisma. We're very proud that he's a Benfica asset."

Echo Sport says: There are bound to be a lot of links with players who have previously played under Slot over the summer transfer window as the new Liverpool boss looks to put his own stamp on the team. The Reds have admired a lot of players at both Benfica and Sporting in recent years, so it is very likely that they will have tracked Kocku at some point.

It seems like the club may have some work to do if they are to convince Benfica to sell this summer, especially for a fee much lower than the defender's reported release clause.

Elsewhere, Chelsea midfielder Connor Gallagher could be 'pushed out' of the club following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino earlier this week. Liverpool have previously been linked with an interest in the England man with Jurgen Klopp a fan.

The Evening Standard claim that both Gallagher and defender Trevoh Chalobah are now more likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer with Pochettino keen to keep them around. His departure means that the two played could be pushed further towards the exit door.

The club may look to cash in due to the academy graduates representing pure profit in terms of the financial regulations. Chelsea may need to bring in money before they can back a new manager in the transfer window, due to the rules and the sheer amount the club has spent in previous windows.

Echo Sport says: If Liverpool retain their interest in Gallagher since the departure of Klopp is still to be seen. The Reds may have been more likely to make a move if the German had remained at Anfield.

There is expected to be no shortage of suitors for the midfielder this summer, with Tottenham heavily linked in previous windows. The thing that could put clubs off is the reported £50 million asking price, that could however reduce if Chelsea become desperate to bring in money as the summer window goes on.