Liverpool have been linked with Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos, who could add the kind of depth in quality the Reds have been lacking during their defence of their Premier League title – but Sevilla have been tipped to ask for Takumi Minamino in part-exchange should there be an approach.
Injuries and a lack of adequate cover have badly hurt Liverpool defensively this season, but the loss of Diogo Jota since early December has highlighted a lack of attacking depth to lessen the burden on Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri have fallen short of filling in without a noticeable drop in quality, as did Minamino prior to his loan move to Southampton last month – although the Japan international is already proving to be a hit on the south coast.
Ocampos has been something of a journeyman since first moving to Europe from River Plate in 2012, but 2019/20 was arguably the best season of his career after joining Sevilla from Marseille, scoring 17 times in all competitions. His goal output has reduced this season but the 26-year-old has remained a key player in a strong Sevilla side on course for another top four finish.
With clubs all over Europe struggling financially amid the coronavirus pandemic, La Razon notes that Sevilla will have to make a big sale in the coming months, with Ocampos and rapidly emerging centre-back Jules Kounde the most obvious assets expected to command offers.
The report expresses doubt as to whether Liverpool would be willing to meet Ocampos’ €65m (£56m) release clause, which given the Premier League club’s own financial situation seems like an accurate assumption to make at this stage.
However, it is also said that Sevilla sporting director Monchi, back with the club since 2019, could see it an opportunity to land Minamino, who the Spaniards value at €10m (£8.65m). A willingness to sell Minamino, bought for £7.25m in January 2020, could lower any asking price for Ocampos.
Jurgen Klopp suggested earlier this month that Minamino may still have a future at Liverpool when his Southampton loan finishes at the end of the season.
“I’d have loved to keep him just to have the options,” Klopp said.
“But Takumi is a long-term project and always was – we see a lot of potential in him. It makes a lot of sense that he gets a chance to play maybe 17 Premier League games [for Southampton] and comes back in a completely different mindset, confidence level and all these kind of things.”