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Liverpool are one of the clubs in the mix to sign French international defender Benjamin Pavard, according to German journalist Christian Falk.

Falk was writing in his latest column for CaughtOffside and when discussing Pavard, claimed Liverpool are one of the most likely destinations for the defender.

Pavard, 27, is expected to leave Bayern Munich this summer and Falk claims he has indeed to the club he is off.

Liverpool could sign Benjamin Pavard from Bayern
Reports in the last few weeks have credited Liverpool with holding an interest in Pavard.

The full-back won the World Cup with France as well as the Champions League and four Bundesliga titles withn the German giants.

But according to Falk, Pavard is now open to a new challenge, with Liverpool a ‘hot candidate’.

Benjamin Pavard has informed the club that he wants to move in the summer,” Falk said.

“His agents are already talking to other clubs. Among them, Liverpool is now a hot candidate. Previously, Chelsea and Barcelona were already known to be interested, as well as Italian clubs AC and Inter Milan.”

The Reds are expected to be busy this summer and have already signed Alexis Mac Allister. A new defender is thought to be on Jurgen Klopp’s mind as well.

One to watch
While a full-back is probably not the highest priority for Liverpool there is no problem in getting yourself in the mix for players of Pavard’s quality.

The Frenchman has been brilliant with Bayern and his record speaks for itself. He is a winner, and the fact he’s also capable on both the left and right will appeal to Klopp.

Of course, midfield remains the main area Liverpool want to add to. But if a deal can be done for Pavard, then it’s certainly worth exploring.

Saudi Arabia transfer exodus could give Liverpool a big problem
Last week was a pretty seismic one for Saudi Arabia and its sporting ambitions.

Having already snapped up Cristiano Ronaldo to play in the Saudi Pro League last year, with Al-Nassr making him the highest paid player of all time with his £177m per year deal, more superstars have headed to the country.

Real Madrid hero Karim Benzema and Chelsea star N’Golo Kante have both inked deals, while Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos is in line to make the move. They didn’t land the big fish they wanted in Lionel Messi, who had been slated for arrival at Al-Hilal, but the waves that they have made so far will have pleased the PIF, who last week announced a radical shake up of country’s domestic game.

PIF, the owners of Newcastle United, acquired control of four of the nation’s biggest clubs; Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli. It is a deal that marks the launch of an investment and privatisation project, with the ultimate goal being to privatise clubs that have been historically state funded and make them into clubs that have growth prospects and, crucially, longevity.

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To kick start the plan there is a major plan for investing into star players with appeal in order to bring eyeballs to the Saudi game, a tactic that has been implemented in the past with nations looking to grow leagues by harnessing star power, such as the MLS in America or the Chinese Super League.

The latter was a disruptor to the game for a period of time some six or seven years ago as enormous sums of money were on offer to take major players to China in a bid to grow the popularity of the league. Where moving abroad for such goals had long been seen as the tactic of players towards the end of their careers, the Chinese money on offer was so significant that the likes of a then 25-year-old Oscar traded the Premier League and Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG.

The pandemic and a struggling economy have seen China’s dream for its senior professional football league unravel as the money dried up and the big names left. It has become a cautionary tale of how such plans can fall down.

The Premier League is the most lucrative, most dominant football league in the world. As one of the very biggest fishes in the pond, Liverpool benefit from huge revenues that allow them to pay big wages, with the club’s payroll for the last financial year of 2021/22 standing at £366m. There have been few challenges to the financial dominance of English football’s elite club competition and that is unlikely to change anytime soon given the global appeal that continues to endure and the enormous media rights and commercial deals that are in place.

But with PIF making the strategic move with the four Saudi Pro League sides it could have a knock-on effect on the transfer market, with both fees and player wages, with the growth of the Saudi game and the potential to earn huge sums likely to continue to entice major European stars, something that could come at an earlier age and see wage demands creep up across the board as a result as top players have more viable options.

Head of commercial strategy at global sports agency Octagon, Daniel Haddad told the ECHO: “The news that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia was going to be acquiring four of the clubs there follows the whole strategic push around developing the football infrastructure there. We are already seeing how that is impacting the market on player wages, for instance. The likes of Benzema heading there, maybe (Sergio) Ramos.

“It adds a new dynamic. For players who are even in their late 20s and maybe have a couple of years left on their deals, if you can see those huge salaries come in sooner, we’ve previously kind of seen those destinations be for players in their late 30s. Maybe we are seeing the first instance of (something bigger), and if there is the kind of scale of investment that PIF and the state of Saudi Arabia has at its disposal then maybe they could fund the project for a much longer term than China in the past, or the MLS.

“Maybe we are going to see players spending more of their peak years in the Middle East, which has a knock-on effect on the sponsorship market and the media rights market.”

In the here and now Liverpool are unlikely to be too concerned about how much the Saudi Pro League might have on offer. They don’t operate with the same transfer strategy as the likes of PSG, meaning that signing players to trade on the cachet of a major addition doesn’t factor as highly. But for a league wanting to grow and pull in more eyeballs and appeal to the world, having prominent Muslim athletes to drive forward their ambitions would be a likely play at some stage, and there are few Muslim footballers that have the appeal of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

But it is the potential for what lies ahead that could be problematic for clubs like Liverpool. Right now they battle in a pool with other rivals from the so-called ‘big six’, which really should be extended to seven to include Newcastle now, and also Spain’s two biggest clubs, PSG in France and Bayern Munich in Germany. The rest struggle to keep up, even the Italian giants of Serie A.

If Saudi Arabia continues to pursue its growth ambitious through legitimising the league by adding top quality, and not just players in their twilight years, then the transfer market could take on a new dynamic in the coming seasons, with players potentially having a new lucrative option on the table, one with greater foundations for longevity that the likes of China did.

It would be hard to doubt the ability of Saudi Arabia and PIF to get to that stage either. After all, they went from golf’s number one enemy to its owner in a year.


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