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Johan Bakayoko transfer could see Liverpool sign 'one of biggest talents in Europe'

PSV forward Johan Bakayoko dribbles forward with the ball during an Eredivisie fixture.
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Icon Sport)


If center-back is the position that looks most obvious for Liverpool to strengthen this summer, adding another forward is perhaps the second-biggest area to add more depth.

Arne Slot will already have five senior forwards to select from when he arrives from Feyenoord, but the Dutch coach is heavily reliant on wingers for the way that he likes to play. At any given time, at least one of the Reds' attacking options will be injured or out of form — more likely, at least two will be, and even when they're all fit, there are five substitutions to be used per game.

That is why it makes sense for Liverpool to be linked with a move for talented PSV forward Johan Bakayoko. Put forward as a possible option for the Reds a couple of times in the past, Eindhovens Dagblad reported this week that Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund were among the sides monitoring the 21-year-old ahead of a possible move.

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"I saw Johan since he was 16 or 17 years old," Rik Elfrink, who covers PSV for Eindhovens Dagblad, tells Liverpool.com. "He came to PSV when he was 15 or 16 and he had some steps to make, of course, but he was one of the talents of the U17s.

"He made the step to the second team of PSV very quickly and he became a goalscorer. It lasted eight or nine months — he had to adapt to professional football.

"He didn't score that much in the first matches but his big breakthrough came in the second season under Ruud van Nistelrooy. He scored 17 or 18 goals and he was chosen as the biggest talent of the second league by Louis van Gaal. It put some pressure on his shoulders but after that season, Van Nistelrooy took him to the first team and in the first year, he made big progress.

"He had to adapt to the first team but what you see with this guy is that he takes a step forward. This season, he scored 12 goals and I think he had nine assists — these are good figures for a guy who is 20 or 21 years old.

Johan Bakayoko celebrates after scoring for PSV Eindhoven in the win over Sparta Rotterdam
Johan Bakayoko has been linked with a move to Liverpool this summer -Credit:Getty Images

"He is one of the biggest talents in his position in Europe. I expect a lot of Johan. It is clear that he is a very ambitious person and his mentality is great. He is a very mature guy."

Bakayoko has had chances to leave in the past and he still has two years remaining on his PSV contract. But the expectation from the Eredivisie side is that he is likely to make a transfer this summer.

"I think he will make a transfer this summer because last year there was a lot of clubs in the market for him. Burnley, Brentford... now he has confirmed his talent and he was able to make a new step, so now it's time to make a step forward. All the big clubs are following him," Elfrink says.

"A story here is that Vincent Kompany might want him for Bayern Munich. He wanted him for Burnley so he could also put him on the list for Bayern and Liverpool is known as one of the interested clubs, but there are a lot more.

"A few years ago, PSV could already sell Johan to PSG for €10m-€15m. They didn't want that because they felt he would make a breakthrough and they were right — now his value could be around $54m (£43m/€50m)."

(Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Johan Bakayoko has emerged as a reported target for Liverpool -Credit:(Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images)

That is a similar amount to what Liverpool paid for fellow Dutch forward Cody Gakpo from PSV in January 2023. And Elfrink says that the two players are at a similar level, suggesting that Bakayoko is ready for his next step.

"They are not that far away from the point that Gakpo reached when he was sold to Liverpool. The big difference then was that Cody had a World Cup behind his name and he scored three times there — for the whole world, he was visible," he says.

"Bakayoko is also a data player. All the analysts like this guy because of his specific qualities and he is always able to come inside from the right and he scores a lot of goals. Gakpo was maybe only a little bit more mature but you cannot deny that Johan is also a very talented guy who made big steps for his age at PSV.

"He might still develop for another two or three years and then he might be a really top player. Another year at PSV wouldn't be that bad for him, I can imagine.

"But when clubs like Liverpool or other clubs from the top of the European leagues come, you want to make that step. A club like Liverpool always has four or five great wingers and they play so many matches that he will get his time."