Liverpool's £60m transfer fumble as Richard Hughes-linked centre back agrees Newcastle deal

Lloyd Kelly has agreed a deal to join Newcastle on a free transfer upon the expiry of his Bournemouth contract with Liverpool potentially missing out on the defender for a THIRD time. 

The Reds were initially interested in adding Kelly back in 2019, when he was still with Bristol City, but the player opted to agree a £13 million deal with Bournemouth instead. 

In charge of recruitment for the Cherries back then was technical director Richard Hughes, now in place as sporting director for Liverpool. 

The achievement of getting Kelly ahead of other suitors - Liverpool included - prompted Liverpool’s then-sporting director Michael Edwards to phone up Hughes and congratulate him on his coup

The duo go back a long way, to Hughes’ playing days at Portsmouth, and are now reunited at Liverpool with Edwards back in the fold as FSG’s CEO of Football. 

Following Bournemouth’s relegation from the Premier League in 2020, Liverpool were reported to have reached out and enquired about signing the centre back-cum-left back once again. 

They ended up moving for Kostas Tsimikas instead while Kelly went on to bounce back to the top flight with Bournemouth. 

It was reported back in March that Liverpool and Tottenham were both in ‘advanced negotiations’ for Kelly when it became clear that he had no intention of renewing his contract at Dean Court. 

Spurs had been turned down by Bournemouth last summer, having offered £20m for Kelly, and now Andoni Iraola’s side are losing him for nothing with the Athletic reporting that a deal is done

The 25-year-old has added to his burgeoning reputation since then, playing either centre back or left back, and would seem to have been an ideal candidate to arrive at Anfield this summer. 

The Reds require a new long-term centre back given the situation surrounding several of their stars. 

First and foremost, there is space in the squad for another defender with Joel Matip leaving on a free

Joe Gomez, meanwhile, is known to be open to a departure this summer and there is interest in the England man from Saudi Arabia

Ibrahima Konate is out of contract in 2026 and has been injury-prone since signing from RB Leipzig in 2021. Moreover, Paris Saint-Germain are known to be keen

Then there’s Virgil van Dijk, who will be free to talk to overseas clubs from January given his contract expires in 2025

Gonçalo Inácio and Ousmane Diomande of Sporting CP. Both are Liverpool transfer targets.

Ousmane Diomande celebrates after scoring goal with Goncalo Inacio during Liga Portugal 23/24 game between Sporting CP and Moreirense FC at Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal. Maciej Rogowski Lisbon Estadio Jose Alvalade Portugal Copyright: xMaciejxRogowskix sporting-moreirense-17-09-2023-2

Liverpool have been linked with Goncalo Inacio of Sporting CP, Willian Pacho of Eintracht Frankfurt and Lille’s Leny Yoro. 

They were also linked with Tosin Adarabioyo, who moved to Chelsea on a free transfer last week.

With Hughes’ connection to Kelly and Edwards’ long-standing admiration of the stopper, it is strange that the Reds didn’t find themselves at the front of the queue for Kelly, given the recent transfer links. 

Having seen him move for free and with prices for Inacio, Pacho and Yoro reaching upwards of £60m, let’s hope that this doesn’t become a transfer fumble that Liverpool regret with replenishing their backline now looking a VERY expensive task. 

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