Liverpool has fortunate transfer swap option to secure Riccardo Calafiori

Riccardo Calafiori has impressed at the European Championship
-Credit: (Image: getty)

Riccardo Calafiori has been a standout performer at Euro 2024, despite his own goal against Spain leading to Italy's defeat in their second group match. However, his defensive prowess throughout the group stages has earned him much praise.

His impressive assist for Mattia Zaccagni secured a last-minute draw against Croatia, showcasing his ability to carry the ball out of defence, play intelligent passes and evade challenges.

The defender appears to possess all the qualities desired in a centre-back. He's strong in the air, comfortable on the ball when moving it out of defence, quick, and boasts an excellent passing range. He would certainly not look out of place in Liverpool's backline.

Moreover, the 22 year old left-footer is versatile, able to play as a centre-back or left-back, fitting the profile of defenders that Liverpool were interested in last summer. Liverpool fans were thrilled when The Athletic reported that the club had enquired about the Italian international. However, while supporters may be eager to see their club sign the Italian star following his performances at the Euros, it seems this wish may remain unfulfilled for now.

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Liverpool is keeping a close eye on Leny Yoro's situation at Lille, ready to make a move if his preferred transfer to Real Madrid falls through. However, it's understood that the Reds don't see a new centre-back as an immediate priority.

Instead, they're focusing on strengthening other areas of the squad. This stance could change as the summer progresses, but for now, Liverpool is holding back, potentially missing out on Calafiori. Juventus has reportedly agreed personal terms with the defender, hoping to reunite him with manager Thiago Motta. But there's debate over whether Juventus is close to agreeing a $50m deal with Bologna.

Meanwhile, Italian reports suggest Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is ready to step in if a fee can't be agreed. Liverpool might find themselves in talks with the Serie A club in the coming weeks, as the Daily Mail reports that Bologna is interested in signing Sepp van den Berg as a potential replacement for Calafiori.

This has sparked speculation among Reds fans, who is suggesting that Liverpool could negotiate a swap deal for the Italian, given the reported $25m asking price for Van den Berg. 'You scratch our back, we scratch yours. We get a centre-back for a cut-price fee while you get a wantaway target as a replacement. Happy days!'.

Riccardo Calafiori could be a possible transfer target for Liverpool
Riccardo Calafiori could be a possible transfer target for Liverpool -Credit:(Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

However, such a swoop would hardly be straightforward, with local-rivals Everton only recently seeing a swap deal of their own with Newcastle United fall through involving Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yankuba Minteh. Liverpool has side-stepped such issues in the past by working alongside two deals simultaneously with a club.

When signing Andy Robertson from Hull City in a deal worth up to $12m, Kevin Stewart moved in the opposite direction for $10m, while Ki-Jana Hoever completed a $11.4m switch to Wolves when the Reds snapped up Diogo Jota for $57m.

Van den Berg has left the club in a swap deal of sorts before, moving on loan to Preston North End when Liverpool signed Ben Davies for an initial $633,000 in January 2021. And only last summer, a $76m swoop for Dominik Szoboszlai was negotiated with RB Leipzig when already discussing a loan move the other way for Fabio Carvalho.

With such opportunities presenting themselves after opening initial talks, it is possible that the Reds could repeat such a tactic if contacted by Bologna with regards to Van den Berg. However, after a successful season on loan at Mainz 05 last season, the 22 year old admittedly wants to return to the Bundesliga outfit.

"The only one who has made a decision is Sepp," Mainz 05's sporting director Christian Heidel was quoted by Kicker. "He definitely wants to stay in Mainz. He has said that very clearly in public."

This firm declaration could well toss a wrench into the proceedings if Liverpool were entertaining thoughts of using him as leverage in negotiations with Bologna. Moreover, with Van den Berg openly criticising his home club's handling of his situation earlier this month, any potential swap deal involving him becomes even trickier.

As it currently stands, fantasies of a Calafiori/Van den Berg trade scenario seem to belong more to the realm of Football Manager than to reality.

Before Liverpool even contemplates such a move, they would have to shift their current approach towards centre-back acquisitions from 'not an urgent priority'. But, should Liverpool wish to evolve a preliminary transfer interest in the Italian into a bona fide offer, numerous elements would need to align differently.