Ederson starts, Mac Allister role - Liverpool dream midfield after transfer greenlight

Ederson and Teun Koopmeiners have both been linked with Liverpool moves.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Liverpool-linked midfielder Ederson has left the door open to an Atalanta exit after admitting that he 'doesn't know' if he will remain in Italy.

The Reds have been mooted with a number of defensive midfielders with the departure of Thiago Alcantara leaving a space open in front of the back four. The ECHO understands that there is no desire to sign a player in that department with the likes of Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister and Stefan Bajcetic at the Reds' disposal.

Ederson has emerged as one of the standout options across Europe in midfield after a superb campaign with the Italian club, that saw them end their 61-year wait to pick up a major honour - after last winning the Coppa Italia in 1963 - when Ademola Lookman inspired a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

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Reports from Italy emerged that the Bergamo club face a possible battle to keep the 25-year-old, two years after snapping up the midfielder from Salernitana. Liverpool have been suggested as a club in the hunt for him and clubs around Europe would've been set on red-alert after his recent admission over his future with Gian Piero Gasperini's side.

Speaking to AS, the Brazilian said, "I am very happy at Atalanta. I just won a great title, I am very well-integrated. My future is something that doesn't worry me. What worries me right now is doing well here with the Brazilian team, leaving a positive impression because it is my first call-up.

"Making sure everyone knows me here just like everyone knows me in Italy. I am very focused, very happy, trying to make the most of this moment with the national team. I don't know, I've thought about it a lot, I like Italy, I'm well adapted, but I'm curious about the Premier League, so I don't know.

"I'm still growing, so I don't know if I'll stay in Italy, I think I still have more to prove. If I go somewhere else, then too. I will continue to grow. If an offer comes, Atalanta will decide. If something comes up about a transfer, the club has to accept it first, and that is the most important thing."

With injuries to Thiago and Bajcetic last season, Liverpool were left threadbare with just one recognised defensive midfielder in Japan international, Endo. Mac Allister showed his versatility as he proved a capable option in midfield - although his services were often better served further forward in his more functional number 10 role - which a defensive midfield addition could unlock.

Prior to Arne Slot's first press conference with the assembled media, there was a lot of debate over the style of football and the type of formation he would deploy. The Dutchman said as much himself that the style of play will not veer too far away from what Jurgen Klopp instilled at Anfield during his nine-year period.

While the build-up, transitions and out-of-possession structure will differentiate attack-by-attack, Liverpool are expected to play a 4-3-3 formation. Slot said: "I was hoping if people looked at my team they would not say it is 4-2-3-1 or it is 4-3-3 or whatever formation you want to call it.

"I was hoping they would say there is a lot of freedom when they have the ball to take it in different positions. So sometimes it is a 4-2-3-1; sometimes it is a 4-1-4-1; sometimes we do build up with three. So there’s a lot of ‘freedom’ when we have the ball.

"But when we don’t have the ball there is not so much freedom. We want to be really aggressive and there’s only one way, and that’s everybody mostly keeps his position. I wouldn’t put myself in the situation where I say I prefer a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1, there are a lot of players taking in a lot of different positions.

"So if you would have asked me, I would have said we played 4-3-3 instead of 4-2-3-1 at Feyenoord. But we did build up a lot of the time with three [at the back], full-backs have different roles."

The headache for Slot will be trying to wedge in some of his most creative players into the midfield with Fabio Carvalho, who returns off the back of a successful loan spell at Hull City, plus Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott as well as Dominik Szoboszlai. After his performances further forward, Mac Allister more than proved his quality and asserted his selection credibilities.

Szoboszlai, who suffered a slump towards the end of the season, showed his quality throughout his debut Premier League season while injury hampered Jones' progression after becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet. The 45-year-old head coach will have an embarrassment of riches for his two central midfielders, while maybe lacking slightly with his defensive midfield options but a move for Ederson could alleviate the issues.

Elliott enjoyed an extended spell in the starting line-up towards the end of Klopp's tenure in the right side of the midfield three. With the addition of Ederson in the middle of a midfield three plus the continuation of Mac Allister and Elliott either side would rank high on Slot's list of midfield options.