Teun Koopmeiners, Alan Varela, Johan Bakayoko - Liverpool have specific criteria for summer transfer

The Arne Slot era is now quietly, but decisively underway at Liverpool.

The incoming Slot, who takes the title of 'head coach', has not landed with a wide-ranging sit-down interview with the club's official channels just yet, but rather a short article on the official website on Saturday marking the formal arrival of the man tasked with building on Jurgen Klopp's wildly successful time at the helm.

"Arne Slot today officially begins his role as Liverpool Football Club’s new head coach," noted Liverpoolfc.com. "Slot will begin work with the squad when pre-season gets under way in July, with a three-game trip to the USA part of the preparations for 2024-25."

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He is not the only new starter, of course, with Richard Hughes coming in as sporting director, to become the first permanent member of staff in that role since Julian Ward stepped away last year. Hughes, who joins from Bournemouth, brings Mark Burchill with him to work in the recruitment department alongside the long-serving and influential duo of chief scout Barry Hunter and head of recruitment Dave Fallows.

Further up the chain, Michael Edwards is now back on board as Fenway Sports Group's 'CEO of football' with Ward also returning as FSG's technical director and Pedro Marques joining from Benfica as director of football development.

The significant reshuffling continued on Friday with the news that Hans Leitert is now the head of global goalkeeping within the structure. The Austrian's first task is to oversee the recruitment of a new head goalkeeping coach at Anfield following the departure of the long-serving and popular John Achterberg.

So June 1 might have been ushered in with most reminiscing about five years ago to the day when Klopp and his team brought home the Champions League trophy but it is also a significant date for the new-look team behind the scenes at Liverpool in 2024.

With pre-season still over a month away, there is little for Slot to do on the pitches as the Reds' first-ever 'head coach' - a job title designed to take away some of the additional responsibilities that had organically began to land on Klopp's desk over time - but the Dutchman is still able to strike up a working relationship with Hughes and it is expected that talks over summer recruitment will now be stepped up at the AXA Training Centre.

With Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip now having left as free agents, it will be interesting to see how much Liverpool feel they need to do this summer to supplement what is already in Slot's ranks and with the Champions League bounty flowing back into the coffers, there should, theoretically, be few financial issues for a club who have been so well run compared to many of their Premier League counterparts in recent years.

A specialist defensive midfielder might once more be on the agenda. It's an area Liverpool have spent over two years trying to recruit for. In 2022 there was interest in Aurelien Tchouameni, now of Real Madrid, but some of that speculation has perhaps since been overplayed in the two years since the France international made the move to Spain from Monaco for close to an initial £70m.

Liverpool knew by April of 2022, at the latest, that Tchouameni had his heart set on Madrid that summer but their interest was at least indicative of a club who were seeking out potential defensive midfield reinforcements. The lack of an alternative when the Frenchman opted for the Spanish capital, though, hurt Klopp's side for the coming campaign. The powder was kept dry as speculation around Jude Bellingham's future went on, and an already ageing midfield were unable to go to the well once more as the 22/23 became one to forget for a side who finished fifth.

Last summer, the pursuit of a 'No.6' stepped up several notches with the failure to land Romeo Lavia from Southampton and Moises Caicedo from Brighton & Hove Albion. The Reds saw a handful of bids rejected by the Saints, who were holding out for £50m. With just one season in the top flight under his belt at the time, several figures inside the club - most notably Klopp - believed the fee to be far too excessive, even if the funds were there to pay it. Lavia eventually joined Chelsea, where his season was wrecked by injury. The Belgian international featured for just 32 minutes in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool's shock £111m offer for Caicedo last August, after the Premier League campaign was already underway, was their most eye-catching attempt to recruit a top-class holding midfielder but those efforts disintegrated quickly once the bid was made public, with the Ecuador international having already promised Chelsea he would sign for them.

Perhaps the Reds had a lucky escape where Caicedo is concerned. The Chelsea man remains a gifted operator, despite the Londoners' general struggles, but such a fee - one that would have smashed the club-record £75m paid for Virgil van Dijk and now Darwin Nunez by £35m - felt like a huge departure from standard practice. Despite the quality of the player in question, it felt like a panicked move. Instead, that figure, or at least whatever is left of it, could be spread across a handful of additional recruits to help bolster Slot's options for the coming years.

The £16m pivot towards Wataru Endo has since proven to be an astute piece of business as Liverpool changed tact significantly from what would have been a British transfer record for Caicedo.

The Japan captain joined from Stuttgart to relatively little fanfare but he has since shown he has a place in the squad. At 31, the need for a long-term addition remains though and having spent the last three summers attempting to bring in that all-purpose midfielder for the holding role, this feels like an early issue for Slot, Hughes and Edwards to get right.

Teun Koopmeiners is someone who has been linked with Anfield regularly over the past 12 months or so. Liverpool's need for a new midfield department last summer saw the Netherlands international named as a potential signing for the Reds. The 26-year-old has since enjoyed an excellent campaign for Europa League winners Atalanta and he is a player Slot is familiar with, having coached him at AZ Alkmaar in the 2019/20 term. Juventus are also said to be interested but Koopmeiners indicated in March that he would jump at the chance of a move to the Premier League.

"I have indicated to Atalanta that I want to make a move next summer," Koopmeiners said. "But there must be something very nice to exchange that for Atalanta. My girlfriend and I are having a great time in Italy, but I can put up with the rain for some clubs in England. I hope there will be great options that I can think about. And then I hope that Atalanta receives a nice amount for me, because I had a wonderful time there.”

Koopmeiners team-mate Ederson is another who has been named in connection with the Reds. Italian media have speculated the defensive midfielder, who played in both legs against the Reds in the Europa League, is on the market for around £40m.

Alan Varela of Porto has been linked in recent days with the Argentina international reportedly having a release clause set at £60m. Senior figures, however, have dismissed genuine interest and believe the 22-year-old's agent to be the source of the reports out of South America.

Levi Colwill is a player who Liverpool have been long-term admirers of. The Reds were tracking the development of the England Under-21 centre-back while on loan at Brighton in the 22/23 campaign, but accepted last summer that there were too many hoops to jump through at the time. The left-sided centre-half was wanted by the Seagulls on a permanent deal and Chelsea themselves saw him as a key fixture in their backline for the long term.

Much will depend on new Chelsea boss Enzo Maresca and the often unpredictable and chaotic setup at Stamford Bridge, where Profit and Sustainability Rules have no doubt formed parts of the internal conversations.

With Matip now a free agent, there is space on both the wage bill and squad list for a new centre-back, even accounting for the rise of Jarell Quansah and Colwill has his admirers at Anfield. A contract until 2029, with the option of an additional year, however, certainly complicates matters further. A sale of Colwill would represent 'pure profit' on the balance sheet but second guessing Chelsea's next move can be a fruitless task to those on the outside looking in.

Further up the pitch and Liverpool have seen their name placed alongside three different wide forwards in recent days in Crysencio Summerville of Leeds United, PSV Eindhoven's Johan Bakayoko and Bryan Mbeumo, who scored nine goals alongside six assists for Brentford.

With the future of Luis Diaz still the subject of speculation, it's obvious why Liverpool are being reported alongside a host of wide forwards. The club are planning for life with Mohamed Salah in their ranks for the coming campaign, meaning a summer sale, at this stage, seems highly unlikely unless the player himself agitates to move and a remarkable offer arrives from the Saudi Pro League for a player who turns 32 this month. Diaz, though, is being named as a potential replacement for Real Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe at PSG.

Liverpool typically prefer their first-team additions to be between the ages of 22 and 25 with somewhere around 150-200 senior appearances under their belt elsewhere. Summerville's time at Feyenoord pre-dates Slot's arrival by a year but at the age of 22, his ceiling will be viewed as a high one, although a year outside of the top flight in the Championship with Leeds might count against him in those metrics of assessment. There is potential to snare him for a relatively smaller fee, though, given Leeds failed to get out of the second tier this term.

Bakayoko has been a star of the Eredivisie and is also a reported target for Arsenal and Bayern Munich as a result. Vincent Kompany, who tried to bring Bakayoko to Burnley last summer, being appointed as Bayern boss could be a factor for the Belgian forward this summer.

Twelve goals and nine assists for a PSV side who beat Slot's Feyenoord to the title last season won't have gone unnoticed by the new Reds boss but the player himself was non-committal on transfer speculation. "The only thing I can say is that I'll be on a football field somewhere next year," Bakoyoko said when asked about Liverpool interest earlier this week by HBVL.

With Slot and Hughes now officially in place, expect Liverpool to continue to be linked to a whole host of players as a new era truly starts to take shape on Merseyside.