Liverpool want freebie Toure and £19m-rated Papadopolous to shore up defence after Carragher exit
Liverpool are closing in on a shock deal to make Kolo Toure their first signing of the summer.
With Jamie Carragher now retired and doubts persisting over the long-term futures of both Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, manager Brendan Rodgers needs to find at least two central defenders and he has wasted no time in moving for Toure.
The Ivorian’s contract with Manchester City expires next month and, having stated his desire to stay in England, he is poised to become a Liverpool player on July 1, once personal terms and a medical can be completed.
Rodgers has looked at a number of players to bolster Liverpool’s defence, including Ajax’s Toby Alderweirled, and Tiago Ilori of Sporting Lisbon, but he is a firmer admirer of Schalke’s Greece international Kyriakos Papadopolous.
Chelsea have also been chasing the 21-year-old but are unwilling to pay Schalke’s £19million asking price.
Though Toure is not in the age profile of players Liverpool sign under their American owners Fenway Sports Group – he is 32 – there is an understanding that experience needs to be added to the dressing room following on from Carragher’s departure.
Rodgers knows strengthening his squad this summer is crucial if Liverpool are to stand any chance of fighting for a Champions League spot next season and he needs to making additions similar to the high-quality buys of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in January.
Coutinho has been outstanding since he arrived from Inter Milan and put the gloss on his efforts with the only goal of the game against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday. The Brazilian cost Liverpool £8.5million but has arguably doubled his worth.
‘When you bring somebody in during January, you hope they can make an impact,’ said Rodgers.
‘You are also looking at it as a six-month adaptation period before you get the best out of them from pre-season onwards.
‘We are all pleasantly pleased and surprised by how well Philippe has done. His numbers tell you the story in terms of goals and assists.’
‘That’s his job, to score goals and create goals. You can’t ask any more. The key thing is that he works his socks off as well.
‘He is a real team player. He’s not a luxury player, he’s not one you put in the team and you are carrying him. He’s a real find for us in terms of the price we have paid. Hopefully his value will be much greater than the cost in the coming years.’
Though Coutinho is only small, the physicality of the Barclays Premier League has not proven to be an issue and Rodgers does not think teams will be able to bully the 20-year-old out of games next season.
‘He can look after himself,’ said Rodgers. ‘His body work is great, he is small in stature. The best players very rarely get tackled because they are so bright and clever. You can see he can use his body if needs be, but he has to become adapted to the physical game here.’