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One that got away: Liverpool and Bruno Fernandes

This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.

Liverpool have not exactly been stuck for goals during Jurgen Klopp’s time at the club. They’ve racked up 474 in the manager’s 221 matches in charge over the last four years, an average of 2.14 per game.

The front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have been highly prolific – they have 17 between them already this season, having struck a combined 69 goals in 2018/19.

However, while that trio provide an abundance of goals, the supply from the Reds’ midfielders has been scarce. Liverpool’s midfielders scored a combined 17 goals in the whole of last season – the same that the front three have managed after two months of the current campaign – while the midfield have provided just three goals so far this season.

One man who may have been able to help improve on the quota of goals from midfield for Liverpool is Bruno Fernandes, whose name was linked with the European champions on multiple occasions throughout the year.

Back in March, The Mirror claimed that Liverpool could be in for the Sporting Lisbon attacking midfielder after his club’s president Francisco Salgado Zenha told Portuguese TV channel TVI24 [via A Bola] that they might have been willing to let him go for less than his £86m release clause.

Three months later, Portuguese outlet Correio da Manha reported [via HITC] that the Anfield club were ready to meet with Fernandes’ agent, with the same publication claiming a week earlier that the Reds had offered £40m for the player.

The transfer saga fizzled out in late July, though, after A Bola reported that the Portugal international would not be moving to the Champions League winners.

Given Liverpool’s paucity of goals from midfield, it isn’t difficult to see why they reportedly wanted Fernandes, whose 2018/19 return of 32 goals was almost double that of every Reds midfielder combined.

He has continued to excel in front of goal this season, with seven to his name already in 10 appearances this campaign – only one less than Mane, one more than Salah and four more than Firmino. [via TransferMarkt]

If Liverpool had been able to land the 25-year-old over the summer, he could well have provided the goalscoring spark that the Reds have not had from midfield since Philippe Coutinho left in January 2018.

The Brazilian scored 54 times in 201 appearances for the Merseysiders, including 12 in 20 games in the first half of the 2017/18 campaign before joining Barcelona, and 14 in 36 matches during 2016/17. [via TransferMarkt]

If any of Salah, Mane or Firmino were to be ruled out for a significant portion of the season, the other players in Liverpool’s squad would almost certainly need to assume greater goalscoring responsibility – something that Fernandes has done consistently for Sporting Lisbon and could well have been doing at Anfield this season had things worked out differently in the summer.

Liverpool fans, how disappointed are you that Fernandes didn’t come to the club despite several reports linking him with a move? Would he have made a discernible difference to the Reds’ fortunes? Comment below with your views!

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One that got away: Liverpool and Bruno Fernandes
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