After the high profile mishaps of the transfers of Virgil Van Dijk and Mohammad Salah, Klopp is eyeing a player that many have never heard of. Gelson Martins impressed Portuguese football fans during a disappointing domestic campaign for Sporting Lisbon in the Premiere Liga in the 2016/17 season. Here’s a little more on who he is and why Liverpool want him.
The Cape Verde-born winger moved to Portugal in his youth before being spotted by Sporting. In March 2014 he was promoted to the clubs B-team before moving up to the main squad in the summer of 2015.
In his time in the first team the 22 year-old has made 87 appearances, of which 42 came this season – a lot of experience in a top European league for a player his age and position.
Pledging his international alliance to Portugal, Martins appeared in all of the 2014 Under 19 European Championship as they finished runners up before travelling with the under 20’s squad for the World Cup a year later, scoring against Senegal in the group stage. He finally got his senior team call-up in September 2016 as he appeared against Andorra during the country’s 6-0 2018 World Cup qualifier win. The wide man has made a further 4 appearances since.
Martins netted 6 times for Sporting this year but it was his 9 assists that earnt him an extension to his contract in January which included a release clause of £46.5 million. However, the clubs recent demise which saw them fail to qualify for the Champions League and lack of finance means Liverpool may well offer half of this figure.
What the Portugal international lacks in strength he makes up for in pace, possessing tremendous speed and agility, hardly ever shying away from an opportunity to take on his opponent.
He can play on either wing ala Divock Origi but prefers the right flank so he can cut in and fire a shot in on his stronger left foot, which he likes to do often.
Despite this, at a tender age he is prone to snatching at opportunities and thus can cause frustration, especially after long, orchestrated build ups that Klopp’s teams like to display. He would need to improve his accuracy and strength if he is to succeed in the Premier League so by no means would be an instant impact.
Being branded as a ‘Sadio Mane 2.0’, Martins would be no more than a back-up in a season when The Reds need to add depth to their squad with European football on the horizon.
Moreover, he is very malleable, being able to play in both a wing back and shadow striker position – a card any manager likes to hold. This possibility would be a real plus for Liverpool.
It’s no secret Liverpool’s first eleven need more competition but whether Martins is the right man to offer this is debatable, with deals such as Salah’s still looking a more favourable option despite the move being unlikely.
A hot prospect? Yes. Good enough for a Champions League side? Debatable.