After settling into life at Liverpool over the past few months, Jurgen Klopp will already have one eye cast to what should be a fascinating summer of activity at Anfield. Poland international Piotr Zielinski is one of the names being touted as a potential first addition of the German’s reign. Let’s take a better look at the possible transfer.
Despite currently playing for a team residing in the bottom half of Italy’s Serie A, Piotr Zielinski has garnered huge praise from across the continent in recent months. After two years on loan at Empoli, parent club Udinese will almost certainly cash in on the 21-year-old midfielder this season, and Liverpool is looking more and more likely to be the Polish star’s next destination.
Having already dipped his toes in the water of senior football as a teenager at Udinese, Zielinski gained his first real opportunity whilst on loan at the Stadio Carlo Castellani in 2014/15. While he hardly set the world alight, the midfielder showed more than enough promise to cement his place as a reliable first-team starter. But this season has seen the energetic youngster develop into a man, and it’s unsurprising that he has registered on the radar of Europe’s elite.
Udinese will be unwilling to loan him back out next term and would much prefer to cash in on a player currently valued at £10-£15million. If he continues to evolve as he has over the past two seasons, he could prove to be a great signing for any top club. However, as an international footballer that has already hit double figures in the caps department, rotting in the reserves of a bigger club won’t appeal. While he might not expect to walk into a top team, Zielinski will demand a fair crack at the whip; Liverpool would seemingly be the perfect fit, not least because Klopp has a history of trusting and moulding promising youngsters.
The price tag would make the youngster a risk, but the fact he has over 75 Serie A appearances to his name underlines his ability to play at a high level. Our football index rating of 4.3 makes this one of the hottest rumours currently circulating and, whichever way you look at it, Liverpool would be getting one hell of a prospect for the future.
Zielinski is already a talented box-to-box midfielder that possesses a fantastic ability to support attacks from deep. A return of three goals this campaign hardly stands out as phenomenal. Nevertheless, the Pole would certainly fancy his chances of increasing that frequency when surrounded by better players. More crucially, though, those natural tendencies to make third-man runs and find the space from deep would surely make him the perfect man to partner the more reserved Jordan Henderson in the midfield.
For all his critics, the Liverpool captain is key to dictating the play at Anfield, but he does need to sit alongside someone with the drive to get forward. Unfortunately, Joe Allen has quite lived up to expectations since his biggest fan got sacked back in early October and could be on his way out. Zielinski would certainly prove a fitting replacement, and he has to potential to reach a level that surpasses the Welshman’s ability by some distance. No Liverpool fans would mind that particular upgrade to the squad.
If the young Pole could strike a winning partnership alongside Henderson, it may free up Emre Can to play in the defence. The German probably considers himself a midfielder, but previous successes at the back offer plenty of reason to think he may end up emulating former Liverpool star Javier Mascherano by adapting his game to make centre-half his preferred position. Alternatively, Klopp could use all three to pack the midfield. In any case, Zielinski would certainly increase the options for Klopp.
Many people that have followed Zielinski will point to those energy levels and attacking urgencies as a potentially great asset to the Gegenpress philosophy that Klopp often loves to utilise. Perhaps more crucially, though, the on-loan Empoli star has a keen eye for picking a defence-splitting through ball. This would make him a very useful outlet whenever the Reds turnover possession in the attacking third. With the likes of Daniel Sturridge ready to meet the supply, Zielinski’s ammunition could see him become a huge weapon in the Anfield arsenal.
At 21, there’s every chance that Zielinski could become a key member of the Klopp revolution. We already know that there will be significant changes to the Liverpool squad this term, and the German manager will almost certainly look to blend experience with raw talent. The Empoli midfielder posses both in abundance, which could make him the perfect fit at Anfield for 2016/17 and beyond.
It’s certainly one of the most intriguing whispers coming out of Anfield right now; keep checking the index for continued updates on the story.