Liverpool's very public pursuit of Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk has come to an abrupt halt. Even after the Merseyside club released a statement seemingly ending their interest in the Dutch defender there was a belief among the journalists close to the club that the deal could be revived.

Rumours suggest that, although the the 25-year-old wants to move to Anfield, if he hands in a transfer request he loses a substantial loyalty bonus – said to be as much as £10million.

With the player apparently reluctant to push for the move and the Saints adamant they won't deal with the Reds otherwise, Jürgen Klopp and the recruitment team have been forced to make other deals a priority; such as attempting to convince RB Leipzig to part with their box-to-box midfielder Naby Keïta.

Though initial reports suggested the move was picking up momentum, recent reports suggest the Bundesliga club have taken up a similar approach to that of Southampton.

They have no intention to sell unless the player forces it.

Liverpool, looking to keep as many plates spinning as possible, have reportedly returned to the centre-back situation, with contingency plans being explored.

Sky Italia claimed the Reds had a £17million bid for Stefan De Vrij rejected by Lazio. The 25-year-old Dutch defender has just the 12 months remaining on his exiting deal and, according to Tuttosport, may leave the club for nothing next summer if they continue to reject bids for him.

And now Emanuele Giulianelli, of the Sports Review, has claimed the Merseyside club have made a £15million bid to sign Lyon centre-back Emanuel Mammana.


Naby Keita | RB Leipzig | FWTV by FootballWhispers

The report goes on to suggest Liverpool are ready to offer Mammana a five-year contract worth £2.8million-a-year, meaning he would earn around £54,000-per-week with the Merseyside club.

For context, Ragnar Klavan is reportedly on £50,000-per-week while first-choice centre-back pairing Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are on contracts worth double that.

Giulianelli believes that the  player is holding out for permission from the Ligue 1 side to discuss personal terms with the Reds because he wants the two clubs to reach an agreement before proceeding with any negotiations.

Making Sense of Mammana

Despite making fewer than 50 appearances for River Plate, the 21-year-old wasn't short of suitors in the summer of 2016.

The highly rated defender was linked with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter Milan and Fiorentina before he swapped Argentina for France just 12 months ago in a deal worth £7million.

He earned his first international cap, back in June 2014, before he had even made his club debut.

After impressing for the under-17's with both club and country he was given the chance with the national team after impressing manager Alejandro Sabella who needed a centre-back in his squad after losing Martin Demichelis and Ezequiel Garay to injury.

That goes to show the high hopes his country has for him. He's since made a further two appearances for La Albiceleste. 

He was initially a midfielder before moving to centre-back and it's obvious when you see just how calm and composed he is when in possession of the ball in the defensive third.

The experience as a midfielder makes him standout as a ball playing-centre. He's got great technique, superb version and, more importantly, he's brave on the ball. He will try to turn defence into attack with incisive passes between the lines.

He finished the season in France with a 91.2 per cent pass success rate – no Liverpool player with 15 or more starts had a greater pass rate than 88 per cent.

He's what some might consider to be the aggressor of any centre-back pairing. It was a role which allowed him to showcase his strengths such as his reading of the game and his positional awareness.

However, he's adapted his style while in Lyon to be a sweeper when necessary.

The Argentine would cover for Mouctar Diakhaby and vice versa. It's helped him to become somewhat of a more well-rounded defender. He's strong in one-on-one situations, he's improved when defending in the channels and it's helped, to an extent, he's not as rash.

Rashness and recklessness is a side-effect of being a proactive defender. In his attempts to intercept the ball he can give away free-kicks. There are occasions he can dive in and just get a toe on the ball. A second later and there's no doubt about it, he'd be heading for an early bath.

Andrew Gibney, the Football Whispers Ligue 1 expert, wasn't exactly glowing about the Argentine and prefers his centre-back partner: “Mammana is forced to make too many tackles to be an elite centre-back. Quite often Diakhaby is left to clean up and it's the one area of his game that would need to improve quickly.”

Mammana vs van Dijk

Liverpool turning their attentions towards Mammana doesn't necessarily mean he's an alternative to van Dijk. It would, however, indicate a change of plans for the Reds.

Instead of signing a defender to relegate one of Lovren and Matip to the bench they would be signing a defender to act as the third choice centre-back. One to displace one of the starting two a year down the line.

In the graphic above you see that Mammana makes fewer interceptions and makes more tackles, which isn't a good thing. One area he does excel, however, is with his use of the ball.

He attempts, on average, more passes than his Dutch counterpart and more than Matip but ten fewer than Lovren. Mammana is completing over 90 per cent of his passes and he's by no means just playing five-yard passes to Maxime Gonalons or Lucas Tousart in the defensive midfield position.

It would also hint at Joe Gomez potentially not having a long-term future at Anfield with a Mammana effectively taking his position within the squad.

Undoubtedly there is potential there. He ticks a number of boxes for what Liverpool look for in a young signing; he's not going to cost a fortune, he's talented and there's a chance he can be developed under a coach like Klopp.

But can Liverpool, who conceded 42 goals last season despite keeping a clean sheet in five of the last six league matches, really approach the 2017/18 season without upgrading their defence?

It doesn't really make sense to go from attempting to bring in a guaranteed starter to a player who needs a reliable base to flourish. Furthermore, would Lyon sell a potential star nowhere near his prime in the same window they lose Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Gonalons?

Should thee report be taken with a pinch of salt? Perhaps. After all, it's the same journalist who claimed Liverpool had bid for Kalidou Koulibaly yet there was no mention of a bid anywhere else.

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