With Liverpool receiving what could be a ‘telling’ transfer boost, Jürgen Klopp may have a second chance to sign a former transfer target seven years in the making
Liverpool is embarking on an intriguing rebuilding project, with a focus on the club’s midfield in particular. Perhaps no transfer window has been as exciting as the one ahead since Jürgen Klopp’s first summer in charge.
The pursuit of then-21-year-old Piotr Zieliski was one of the summer’s biggest transfer sagas as Klopp looked to bolster his midfield. While playing for Empoli at the time, the Polish international was spotted wearing a Liverpool shirt on TV and confirmed in an interview that there had been talks about a possible transfer.
“There is a lot of truth in manager Klopp’s interest in me,” Zieliski told Sportowefakty in 2016. “I don’t deny that there was contact between the clubs, but I didn’t speak with Klopp.” I don’t want to think about it now, when we still have Empoli and the European Championship to play. The club and national teams are currently the most important.”
Of course, the rest is history: Zieliski joined Napoli and has played a key role in restoring the club to its former glory, lifting the scudetto for the first time in 33 years this season.
He has made 17 goal contributions from midfield for the club this season and even caught the eye against Liverpool with a devastating performance scoring twice and registering one assist as Napoli annihilated Klopp’s side 4-1 on their home turf in the Champions League.
But, after 325 games for the club and entering his prime years, Zieliski appears to be open to a new challenge away from Naples, and the club appears to be open to selling him as well.
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It was telling that, as Napoli battled for the league title, Zieliski was the first to be replaced against Salernitana and then sat on the bench for the club’s next two games. That suggests Napoli is preparing for a future without him.
Because he has yet to extend his contract, which expires in 2024, now would be an ideal time for the 28-year-old to leave the club.
According to Meczyki, that possibility exists, and Liverpool appears to be the most likely destination at the moment. As Klopp begins his midfield rebuild seven years after the club failed to sign him for the first time, Zieliski would be an ideal fit in terms of his offensive ability, adding a new dimension to Liverpool.
Given his contract situation, Liverpool would undoubtedly have an advantage in negotiations and would almost certainly be able to entice the Polish international for a reduced fee. Transfermarkt values him at $44 million (£35 million/€40 million).
Zieliski, who can play in a variety of midfield positions, brings technical excellence and a lot of dynamism to any team he plays for. His energy could propel Liverpool to the next level, as he was devastating in the final third.
He is still in his prime at 28 years old and could play for several more seasons. One significant asset is that he has only missed four games due to injury during his entire Napoli career. He has never missed more than three league games in a season, and his fewest league appearances in a season have been 35.
Liverpool needs someone as dependable as Zieliski, and with the club losing a lot of experienced midfielders like James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, bringing in someone of Zieliski’s caliber could be just as important as rejuvenating the midfield with younger options.
Everything that is delayed is not lost. After seven years of waiting, Zieliski may finally be able to put on the red shirt of Liverpool this summer.