With Jurgen Klopp in the Liverpool hotseat, arrivals from Germany are almost inevitable at Anfield this summer. Could Hoffenheim’s Niklas Sule join fellow Bundesliga star Joel Matip in the Normal One’s new look side for 2016/17? Let’s take a closer look.
After a quiet first transfer window in January, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has pulled no punches in revving up the engine for a summer of activity at Anfield. The 48-year-old has enjoyed a positive start to life in English management, but will be desperate to stamp his authority on Merseyside this summer with a number of new recruits.
While the German will be preparing for improvements all over the park, it’s evident that plugging those defensive holes is a major cause for concern. The Reds have conceded more goals per game than any other top 10 Premier League outfit this season and are likely to let Kolo Toure leave on a free when his contract ends this summer as well as letting Martin Skrtel head for the Anfield exit. Schalke’s Joel Matip has already been confirmed as a summer arrival, and our transfer index rating of 4.3 shows that Klopp could be looking to complete the partnership by raiding his home country for another promising youngster in the form of Niklas Sule.
Despite being only 20, Sule has already garnered huge applause in his home country. The 6ft 5in colossal has been linked with a move to bigger and better things for over two years and, with Hoffenheim fighting for survival, it appears that this summer could be the perfect timing for the defender to make his bow; Liverpool would seemingly offer the perfect destination.
As a German of considerable height, Sule has often been compared to Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker. Like his compatriot, the Liverpool target boasts an astute tactical awareness befitting of a player with far more miles on the clock. That innate reading of the game, combined with great physical presence, could make the Hoffenheim man a fantastic option at Anfield.
While success is very much on the agenda for 2016/17, Klopp is unequivocal about his desire to build a dynasty, which is why the German youngster is such a hot prospect. Potentially, the new look partnership of Sule and 24-year-old Matip could form the heart of Liverpool’s defence for a decade. Meanwhile, the fact Sule has also shown promise as part of a three-man backline shows a versatility that the manager will love, particularly with Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho likely to stay at Anfield too.
Sule’s aerial presence and ability to read the game would make him the perfect form of cover for the more assertive defensive options at Anfield. Moreover, his willingness to put himself on the line would make him a big hit with the Kop; anyone that shows a genuine passion for the shirt is well received on Merseyside, especially at such an early stage in their careers.
For all those stopping attributes, the German is more than capable of stepping out with the ball when needed. A pass rating of over 85% in 27 Bundesliga matches underlines an ability to make the right decision and provide a calming influence in one of the most dangerous areas of the pitch. If nurtured properly, there’s no doubt that Klopp could work wonders with the U21 international.
Sule has been ever-present at the Rhein-Necker-Arena this season, but his age would also allow Klopp the chance to bed him in slowly. Of course, the ambitious youngster would be eager to fight for a regular starting berth but time is certainly on his side. This could play into the hands of both club and player perfectly, especially if the individual needs time to adjust to the demands of life at one of Europe’s biggest and most scrutinised clubs.
Hoffenheim have got their man tied to a long-term contract, but Julian Nagelsmann will have no hope of keeping him in Germany should the club be relegated. Even if they do survive, this would be the opportune moment to cash in on their rising star. Klopp certainly won’t be the only vulture ready to swoop, but he would have to be considered the firm favourite to land a deal that would get that infectious smile glowing.
Aside from regaining Champions League football, Klopp will be determined to win a trophy next year, especially if the club doesn’t win Europa League silverware this term. The pressure soon mounts when a trophy isn’t won at Liverpool. Whether bought in to make an immediate impact or bid his time, there is no doubt that Sule has the potential to bolster a backline that will be hoping to battle it out on several fronts in 2016/17.
And if he turns out to be anything like the last player to trade Hoffenheim for Liverpool, Anfield will be buzzing. Whatever happens, this rumour is getting more fascinating by the day. Follow our transfer index to monitor the latest developments.