Three Bournemouth Players Richard Hughes Could Target for Liverpool as the New Sporting Director

The anticipated news has been officially confirmed. Richard Hughes joining Liverpool as their new sporting director has been approved.

This approval follows his announcement to depart from his position as Bournemouth’s technical director, signaling a probable move to Anfield. The reunion of Hughes with Michael Edwards, who worked together at Portsmouth for two decades, has only fueled speculation further, setting the stage for their collaboration on Merseyside.

As the search for Jurgen Klopp’s successor intensifies, with Xabi Alonso currently leading the race, Hughes will play a pivotal role in player recruitment once the new manager is appointed.

Edwards, during his tenure as sporting director, earned admiration from Liverpool fans for his adeptness in identifying talent and negotiating deals.

Harry Redknapp, who coached Hughes at Pompey, attests to his extensive knowledge of players worldwide. Redknapp, known for his recruitment patterns, notably brought Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, and Niko Kranjčar with him from Portsmouth to Tottenham.

There’s a possibility that Hughes may follow a similar path. Bournemouth, boasting one of the Premier League’s youngest squads with an average age of 25.4, have focused on developing and potentially selling players to higher-ranking clubs.

Now at the helm of one of Europe’s esteemed clubs, Hughes has the opportunity to capitalise on his expertise, potentially targeting players from his former club, Bournemouth, as he assumes the role of a poacher in the transfer market.

There appears to be little possibility of Dominic Solanke making a return to Anfield. The striker has become a key figure for Bournemouth, showcasing his talent with 15 goals and three assists in 28 matches this season.

Liverpool previously sold Solanke to the Cherries in January 2019 for a substantial fee of £19 million. Despite struggling to leave a mark during his early career at Anfield, he has flourished on the south coast. However, at 26 years old, Solanke would demand a significant transfer fee, and Liverpool already have several alternatives in Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Cody Gakpo.

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Liverpool boast a formidable array of attacking options, particularly after rebuilding their midfield last summer. New additions such as Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Wataru Endo have strengthened the team, while Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Stefan Bajcetic, and Bobby Clark represent promising prospects on an upward trajectory.

Looking ahead, Liverpool may need to reinforce their defence in the future. The uncertainty surrounding Joel Matip’s contract situation adds to this concern. Matip, a highly regarded center-back, has been a valuable asset to the club since his arrival from Schalke on a free transfer in 2016.

He played a crucial role in Liverpool’s success, contributing to the winning of seven major trophies, including the Champions League and the Premier League.

Unfortunately, Matip has been sidelined since sustaining a severe ACL injury in December, which required surgery. His return to action this season remains uncertain.

Jurgen Klopp has acknowledged the importance of Matip’s situation, expressing confidence that the club’s owners, FSG, will handle it appropriately, citing their past displays of integrity in such matters.

However, once next season commences, he will be 33 years old, along with Virgil van Dijk. FSG is cognisant of the importance of avoiding simultaneous aging of players in the same position, as witnessed by the midfield misstep that cost Liverpool their Champions League berth last season.

While the former Cameroon international may receive a contract extension offer to stay at Anfield, it’s unlikely to be a lengthy one. Presently, Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, and Jarell Quansah, who has enjoyed a stellar breakthrough season, serve as alternatives. Nonetheless, there may be a necessity to reinforce the squad’s depth.

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Lloyd Kelly has been a persistent target for Liverpool, with links dating back. Despite joining Bournemouth from Bristol City for £13 million in 2019 under Hughes’ management, he has amassed 119 appearances for the Cherries.

Despite his injury woes this season, the 25-year-old is reportedly attracting interest from various clubs as his contract nears expiration this summer, with Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, and Juventus among the suitors. Hughes’ influence could sway Liverpool’s favour in securing a bargain deal for Kelly, who is yet to reach his peak.

Furthermore, another promising center-back, Illia Zabarnyi, remains several years away from reaching his prime. The 21-year-old has been a mainstay this season, featuring in 32 matches. Signed by Hughes in January 2023 for £24 million, Zabarnyi’s value has soared to £34 million per CIES Football Observatory, with expectations of further appreciation.

Concurrently, the left-back position may require attention in the upcoming transfer windows. With Andy Robertson recently turning 30, sustaining his high-intensity performances may become challenging. Kostas Tsimikas, at two years Robertson’s junior, provides cover.

Milos Kerkez has been a consistent presence for Bournemouth at left-back this season. Signed from AZ Alkmaar for £15.5 million last summer, the 20-year-old Hungarian, also a teammate of Szoboszlai in the national team, has swiftly adapted to the Premier League’s demands, attracting interest from Manchester United and Chelsea after making 26 appearances in all competitions.

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