Liverpool battling Manchester United to sign Bart Verbruggen
Liverpool are reportedly battling bitter rivals Manchester United to sign Anderlecht goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen in the summer.
The Lowdown: Verbruggen profiled
Verbruggen is one of the rising goalkeepers in European football, and has just come off the back of a man-of-the-match performance for Anderlecht in their UEFA Europa Conference League second leg last-16 tie against Villarreal on Thursday night.
Achieving a 9.5 rating on SofaScore, by far the highest of anyone on the pitch, the 20-year-old made a remarkable nine saves in total, with five of those coming from shots inside the box, as Anderlecht won 1-0 away in Spain to go through 2-1 on aggregate.
In the Belgian top flight, Verbruggen has only conceded 13 times in 12 appearances, keeping five clean sheets (Transfermarkt), and at international level, the six-foot-three colossus has recently received his first senior call-up to the Netherlands squad ahead of the upcoming international break.
The Latest: Liverpool interest
As per Belgian news outlet HLN, Liverpool are set to battle United for Verbruggen’s signature this summer, with both Jurgen Klopp and Erik ten Hag ‘charmed’ by him.
Anderlecht want to keep him if possible, after rejecting an offer from Vincent Kompany’s Burnley last summer, but there is a ‘real chance’ that he could leave for financial reasons.
Still, Verbruggen has a €10m (£8.8m) price tag over him, and Anderlecht are insistent that he will not leave for less.
The Verdict: Kelleher replacement?
The Merseysiders have reportedly put back-up goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher up for sale this summer, as he is not part of their long-term plans at Anfield.
This means that a goalkeeper position should open up next season, and Verbruggen could take that with open arms alongside number one Alisson.
HLN describe him as ‘excellent’ with his feet, making him a ‘huge weapon’ for teams that like to play out from the back:
“Verbruggen is an excellent line keeper, but is also excellent with the feet. A huge weapon for teams that like to build from behind.”
His team-mate and former Premier League defender Jan Vertonghen is also full of admiration for Verbruggen, claiming that he has the potential to become ‘one of the best goalkeepers in Europe’:
“Verbruggen has the potential for me to become one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. If you see where he is now at 20. We are also very close, we are practically neighbors in Antwerp. I’ve rarely seen such a personality at that age. Modest, but very driven and ambitious. If I’m a top European club and I have the money to spend, I wouldn’t hesitate.”
Nonetheless, Verbruggen looks to be a very capable understudy to Alisson for next season, should he move to the Reds.