After Liverpool's pursuit of high-profile targets Moisés Caicedo and Roméo Lavia ended in embarrassment this week, the club are now hoping to "limit leaks" as they look to bring in midfield reinforcements during the remainder of the transfer window.
Despite successfully signing Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai early on this summer, the Reds were left with egg on their face when both Brighton's Caicedo and Southampton's Lavia chose to join Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Writing in his Caught Offside column, Fabrizio Romano shone a light on Liverpool's recent dealings.
“Liverpool will now move on to different targets," he wrote, suggesting that there could be renewed interest in Manu Koné of Borussia Mönchengladbach and Khéphren Thuram of Nice, as well as in Leeds United's Tyler Adams.
However, most interestingly, Romano alluded to "leaks" which "created an issue with the Caicedo deal - and [the] same with Lavia."
This marks a departure from Liverpool's previous approach, where they were renowned for conducting business discreetly and only pursuing targets who had a strong desire to join the club.
The pull of Chelsea
While it became practically public knowledge that Caicedo preferred Chelsea, in the case of Lavia, Romano explained that the 19-year-old Belgian was also not quite as enamoured by the idea of joining the Reds as it first seemed: "Liverpool spent two weeks negotiating with Southampton, they had the green light of the player, but for Lavia it was only a possibility, it’s not like he was saying he only wanted Liverpool."
In fact, it appears that one man played a crucial role in persuading Lavia to swap Southampton for Stamford Bridge - Joe Shields.
"He is one of the directors at Chelsea, and he almost created Lavia as a player because he was a director at Manchester City’s academy, and then a director at Southampton when he signed Lavia for them. Now Shields is at Chelsea and he is signing Lavia again, making a huge difference in this story."
As a result, Romano believes, "Liverpool did not have a deal done with Southampton, because they knew the player preferred Chelsea."
So with all this in mind, why chase both Lavia and Caicedo in the first place? The Reds' due diligence over their two main summer targets must surely now be brought into question.