Writer: Gavin John Day
Date:Tuesday May 21 2013
Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos is said to be Liverpool's preferred recruit as they look to overhaul the defence...
Speculation is gathering pace that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has identified Schalke centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos as his main summer transfer target.
The 21-year-old is well regarded around Europe and, despite missing much of the second half of the Bundesliga season with a knee injury, is likely to cost around £12million.
Stories linking the player with a move to Anfield have been doing the rounds for a while now but, with the well-sourced Liverpool ECHO today publishing the link, it seems there might just be more to the connection than mere rumour.
Papadopoulos first came to prominence at Olympiacos where he made his first-team debut at the age of 15 and in so doing became the youngest player to ever play in the Greek league.
He consistently earned rave reviews from that point on, both for Olympiakos and the Greece U21 side, and in the summer of 2010 moved to Schalke for a fee of around £2million.
During the subsequent years in Germany, the former Svoronos Katerinis youngster has continued to hone his craft and was even the subject of a £16million offer from Zenit St Petersburg last year.
Although the club accepted the bid, Papadopoulos rejected the move to Russia and instead penned a new deal with Jens Keller's side through to 2016.
Should a sizeable offer again be lodged the Germans are thought to be ready to do business once more despite qualifying for the Champions League next season courtesy of last weekend's 4th place league finish.
Rodgers is known to be eager to reinforce quickly, and with multiple new faces, given the defensive void left by Jamie Carragher's retirement and the uncertainty surrounding the futures of unhappy duo Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel.
In recent days the club have been heavily linked with both Manchester City's Kolo Toure and Portuguese youngster Tiago Llori, who plays for Sporting Lisbon.
Papadopoulos, who already has 16 full international caps in his fledgling career, is described by the ECHO as being 'physically strong, comfortable in possession and dominant in the air'.
Perhaps worryingly for Rodgers, Manchester City, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid have also been linked with the highly-rated 6ft defender.
Papadopoulos seems to tick a lot of boxes and given the potential outlay is presumably viewed as someone who can go straight into the starting eleven. His ability, record, age and potential sell-on value are all good fits with the preferred new player spec of Liverpool's owners. From what I have seen of Papadopoulos, although admittedly not a huge amount, he certainly seems destined for big things and it would be viewed as something of a coup if the Reds could get the Greek.
Likelihood (out of 5):
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Date:Tuesday May 21 2013
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