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Fabinho transfer gamble becomes clear as Jürgen Klopp’finalizes’Liverpool three-man shortlist



Fabinho transfer gamble becomes clear as Jürgen Klopp’finalizes’Liverpool three-man shortlist

As the end of the Premier League campaign approaches, Liverpool’s plan for the upcoming summer transfer window is becoming clearer. Jürgen Klopp is linked with a whole host of midfielders as the German looks to renovate his engine room ahead of next season, but three names appear to place at the top of his shortlist.

A wealth of talents from across Europe seem to be on the table for the Reds, but Alexis Mac Allister, Mason Mount and Ryan Gravenberch are the most common, with The Times claiming the Reds have decided to push ahead with moves for all three. The trio would certainly improve Liverpool’s fortunes next term given their quality and potential, but their individual profiles are curious upon inspection of what has happened at Anfield this term.

Over the past 12 months, Klopp’s men have struggled on the defensive side of the game above all else. In attack, Liverpool places near the summit of the Premier League for expected goals per match — excluding penalties — but on the defensive end, it ranks 12th by the same numbers.

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Improvement against the ball looks destined to be essential over the next few months, yet Mac Allister, Mount and Gravenberch are all offensive and expressive players who like to operate in and around the final third of the pitch. All three of the players in question are number eights, and attack-minded ones at that.

The transfer rumors surrounding the trident suggest that Fabinho’s place in the team is relatively safe, which is likely to be somewhat of a surprise to many Reds supporters. Despite offering years of service at Anfield since his transfer from AS Monaco in 2018, the Brazilian has looked past his peak of late.

Fabinho is still just 29 years old — which suggests that he should still have enough in the tank to contribute on Merseyside — but this season, he’s been chasing shadows for the most part. The South American was previously known for his expertise when it comes to regaining the ball and helping his teammates sustain attacks by extinguishing fires before they spread, but those qualities have waned.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

(Image: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The Champions League and Premier League winner has looked closer to the age of 35 over the past 12 months, with opponents slicing through Liverpool’s defensive structure with ease. Fabinho was once super efficient in his efforts to prevent opposition counter-attacks, but he now looks tired and worn.

Klopp will hope that his holding midfielder is just experiencing a dip in form, perhaps as a consequence of what has been going on around him. Fabinho has been surrounded by the wrong players this term, with James Milner now aged 37, and Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcântara both aged 32.

To an extent, the Brazilian international has been left exposed, and if Mac Allister, Mount and Gravenberch are added to the squad this summer, that could change next season, as Fabinho will finally be afforded proper protection while playing alongside players who can cover ground with youth, vitality and vigor.

Keeping faith in his services is a massive risk for Liverpool to take considering what he’s shown on the field this season, but based on the transfer rumor mill, Klopp looks set to give him a final chance to redeem himself next year.


Marius Bülter scores 90+12 minute winner to give S04 all three points after a committed performance in Mainz

FC Schalke 04 sealed a dramatic 3-2 away win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Friday (05/05). The winning goal came in the 12th minute of additional time, with Marius Bülter scoring from the penalty spot.

Van den Berg and Brunner start – Skarke back in the squad

Head coach Thomas Reis made two changes to the team who started the 2-1 win against Werder Bremen, with Sepp van den Berg and Cedric Brunner coming in for Maya Yoshida and Jere Uronen (both dropped to the bank). For van den Berg, it was a first start since October 2022. Brunner made his comeback having injured his shoulder against Hertha BSC and missing the last two games. Tim Skarke was also in the squad again, having suffered a deep cut to his ankle in the game against the ‘Old Lady’.

Schalke start the game well

The game got off to an intense start, with the ‘Knappen’ in the contest from the off. In the 6th minute, Rodrigo Zalazar picked up the ball in midfield and dribbled towards goal. His ball into the middle deflected off Stefan Bell and out for a corner. The Royal Blues were also alert at the other end, with Henning Matriciani making a perfectly executed sliding tackle in the Schalke box to take the ball away from Dominik Kohr (13’).

3 minutes later, a cross from Marius Bülter towards Kenan Karaman deflected dangerously off Hanche-Olsen’s back towards the Mainz goal, but Robin Zentner was alert to the danger. Mainz’s best chance in the first half came to nothing thanks to Alexander Schwolow, who turned a Karim Onisiwo shot behind for a corner (20’).

Bülter does some stepovers and buries into the far corner

Schalke opened the scoring six minutes later. The ball was won in midfield, Kenan Karaman combined with Sepp van den Berg before playing the ball on to Rodrigo Zalazar, who found Marius Bülter on the left-hand side of the box. Schalke’s number 11 did a number of stepovers, beating Andreas Hanche-Olsen in the process before then finishing into the far corner with his left foot (26’).

The Royal Blues didn’t calm down having taken the lead and won lots of duels and second balls, and they could’ve doubled their lead after 35 minutes. Kenan Karaman received the ball from Simon Terodde and drove towards goal before hitting the right post from the edge of the box. Terodde himself then also failed to convert from a tight angle, firing straight at Robin Zentner (44’). In additional time at the end of the first half, Marcin Kaminski managed to clear the ball for a corner when it was looking dangerous from a Schalke perspective, maintaining the 1-0 lead going into the break.

Bülter misses a chance to make it 2-0 – Mainz equalise moments later

The second half developed differently to the first. Schalke had the first chance of the second half with a Rodrigo Zalazar shot from the edge of the box. Shortly afterwards, the Royal Blues missed an opportunity to go 2-0 up. Marius Bülter made a run in behind on the counter and was played in one-on-one by Simon Terodde, but an outstretched foot from Zentner prevented a second Schalke goal (51’).

Despite these two opportunities, it was Mainz who built up more pressure and were finally rewarded with an equaliser. After a series of dangerous corners, Leandro Barreiro found the back of the net, turning home Andreas Hanche-Olsen’s near post flick from close range. The Zerofivers looked to instantly add another. Dominik Kohr didn’t catch the ball right inside of the penalty area (56’) and Alexander Schwolow then held on to a Ludovic Ajorque header (59’).

Krauß scores during period of Mainz pressure – Aarón responds with a freekick

S04 managed to score after an hour during a period where Mainz were piling on the pressure. Schalke claimed the ball in midfield following a Mainz throw-in. Tom Krauß played the ball to Alex Král, who laid it on to Kenan Karaman. The winger pulled the ball back inside the Mainz box to an onrushing Krauß, who buried the ball into the far corner to make it 2-1.

Despite Schalke going ahead, it was Mainz who had the better of the game, and in the 71st minute they equalised. Aarón curled a freekick from the edge of the box over the wall and into the top corner.

Zentner keeps Mainz in the game – Bülter keeps his nerve from the spot in additional time

This was the beginning of an action-packed final stage of the game, with the Royal Blues once again creating a host of opportunities. Substitutes Tim Skarke (80‘) and Sebastian Polter (83‘) both had efforts saved from close range by the impressive Zentner, who also managed to turn a Danny Latza shot from the edge of the box over the bar (90+1’).

The board said five minutes of additional time, but in the end over 15 minutes were played. One reason for this was a break in play due to a clash of heads between Henning Matriciani and Aymen Barkok which required treatment for both players, another being a lengthy VAR check. Anthony Caci had pulled Marius Bülter’s shirt in the penalty area, with referee Dr. Matthias Jöllenbeck initially waving play on. He took another look at the incident on the screen by the side of the pitch and decided to give a penalty! Marius Bülter kept his cool, sent Robin Zentner the wrong way and rolled the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-2 (90+12‘). Mainz attacked again but were unable to create a shot on goal, meaning S04 were able to celebrate a crucial away win at the MEWA Arena!

Away game at the record champions

On matchday 32, S04 are once again on the road, this time travelling to face Bayern Munich on Saturday (13/05), with a 15:30 CEST kick off.