Liverpool: The first six fixtures of the new Premier League season
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp might finally have his Gini Wijnaldum replacement in Renato Sanches, with the Reds reportedly primed to sign the Portuguese midfielder from Lille this summer.
Sanches was one of the star performers at Euro 2020 and his reputation has skyrocketed since his failed spell at Bayern Munich.
The 23-year-old was once one of the most highly sought teenagers in world football when he broke into the Benfica first team aged just 16.
He garnered attention from Manchester United but instead signed for Bayern in 2016.
However, Sanches made just 53 appearances for the Bundesliga side in three years and had an unsuccessful loan spell at Swansea City in the 2016-17 season.
Sanches joined the Swans in January and was unable to prevent them being relegated from the Premier League.
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But some excellent performance for Lille since signing for the French club in the summer of 2019 have seen his stock soar.
The Portugal international helped them stun Ligue 1 as they pipped Paris Saint-Germain to the top-flight title in May.
Several clubs have added Sanches to their transfer shortlists due to his form and, according to SportItalia, Liverpool are in pole position to make a move.
The 2019-20 Premier League champions have not yet made an official bid for Sanches and he is one of a number of players who could replace the departed Wijnaldum at Anfield.
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Wijnaldum exited Liverpool at the end of his contract and has joined PSG, despite previously seeming set to sign for Barcelona.
The versatile Dutchman was a key player for Klopp and may cost a lot to replace, especially due to the importance of his reliability in a squad that was decimated by injuries last term.
Midfielders Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both spent lengthy periods of the campaign out injured.
Wijnaldum made 237 appearances for Liverpool after arriving from Newcastle in 2017 and scored several important goals, including two in the sensational 4-0 Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona in 2019.
Klopp wants to rejuvenate his squad after a failed defence of their Premier League title.
A 10-match unbeaten run to end the season helped them finished third, despite Klopp ruling out their Champions League qualification chances as late as March.
The German has already added defender Ibrahima Konate to his squad to improve his centre-back options.
Youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams were thrown into the first team due to a devastating injury crisis, which prematurely ended the seasons of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Liverpool triggered the £35m transfer release clause in Konate’s RB Leipzig contract.
“In Ibrahima we are signing a player who will add to the quality we already have here. His physical attributes are very impressive, Klopp said about the Frenchman.
“He is quick, he is very strong and he is dominant in the air.
“He comes to us after playing more than 90 times for Leipzig in the Bundesliga and European football.”
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