After months of flirtatious comments, heaps of praise and an endlessly cited release clause, Timo Werner finally appears to be on his way to the Premier League. But to Chelsea, rather than Liverpool.
Jürgen Klopp's side had amassed 82 out of a possible 87 Premier League points before the enforced hiatus and their surprise failure to land one of the hottest young talents in Europe has given others hope of laying a glove on them this decade.
While Frank Lampard laps up praise for his persuasive phone calls, a significant factor behind Werner's U-turn transfer appears to stem from Liverpool's unwillingness to match the £54m asking price.
In the Bundesliga this season, Timo Werner has contributed to 32 goals/assists in just 28 starts.— 90min (@90min_Football) June 4, 2020
The man would be an incredible signing for anyone! ?pic.twitter.com/U24ghMd6xC
It seems like a wispy memory from a bygone era, but in April Liverpool were one of the first clubs to place their staff on furlough in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately that decision was overturned (largely due to the public backlash) but the club clearly are keen to keep the purse strings drawn.
So, with Werner bound for west London, and pricey options like Adama Traore and Jadon Sancho off the table, who are some of the cheap(er) alternatives to bolster Liverpool's already ridiculous attacking trident?
Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) - £30-35m
At Espanyol and Villarreal, Gerard Moreno has hit double figures for La Liga goals in three of his last four seasons. The left-footed Spaniard also offers creativity and is surprisingly good in the air.
At 28, he is older than most of Liverpool's signings under FSG but his versatility makes him an interesting option.
An ability to play out wide means he could fit in as an understudy to Liverpool's wingers on the flank, however he is more than comfortable drifting centrally when Roberto Firmino drops deep.
By some reports, the three-cap, three-goal Spain international has a release clause of €40m (£35m).
Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad) - £35-45m
Real Sociedad have enjoyed an astonishing campaign as they went into the enforced hiatus with a Copa del Rey final to prepare for and in the Champions League places. A young, exciting squad forms the core of this side with 20-year-old Isak at the tip of their attack.
La Real were able to snag the Swede from Borussia Dortmund for less than £6m in the summer and while they will certainly want a significant increase on that investment, it should still fall short of the fee Liverpool turned their nose up at for Werner.
Standing at 6'3 but with pace, delicate feet and an eye for goal, Isak would serve as a wonderful shift in dynamic for Liverpool's attacking trio.
The problem is that Dortmund have a buyback option on their former star, while Barcelona have also been linked.
Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo) - £20-30m
Once part of a co-ownership agreement with Juventus, Berardi has consistently been one of the top Serie A performers outside the traditional Italian elite for several seasons.
Now 25, Berardi is superb at finding an opening to shoot, he offers a creative outlet and from his position either through the middle or on the right, he is excellent at applying pressure.
In 2019/20, he has nine goals in 20, as well as five assists.
Hee-chan Hwang (RB Salzburg) - £10-15m
RB Salzburg might not be too keen to see Liverpool snatch another one of their attacking starlets six months after Takumi Minamino swapped Austria for Merseyside in January but Hee-chan Hwang seems destined to become another recruitment success-story for Red Bull's footballing group.
The 24-year-old centre-forward is quick, clinical and knows how to play an all-action high-pressing game with both Red Bull teams and Liverpool favour.
With one year left on his contract, the Premier League champions-elect won't be forced to break the bank either.
Kevin Volland (Bayer Leverkusen) - £30-40m
As Kai Havertz continues to hog the headlines, the consistent and superb performances his teammate Kevin Volland has churned out this campaign should not go unnoticed.
At the tip of Peter Bosz's high-pressing Bayer Leverkusen, Volland has nine goals and seven Bundesliga assists this campaign as he continues to improve year upon year.
The 27-year-old -previously linked with Arsenal - often plays through the middle although he is experienced in a deeper role or from the right, cutting onto his stronger left foot.
Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach) - £40-45m
Burdened with the tag of being the son of World Cup winner Lilian, the 22-year-old Gladbach forward has been making his own name this season, shining in his first year in the Bundesliga.
Like Werner, Thuram has the ability to play through the middle as an alternate to Firmino or in one of the wide positions.
Often rated at around £40m, he is also used to a high-pressing, 'defend from the front' system, while his flag-waving celebrations would surely gone down a treat on the Kop.
Though he wouldn't be much cheaper than Werner in fee, he would surely require lesser wage, if the finances can be found.
Chimy Ávila (Osasuna) - £15-22m
The sight of Luis Ezequiel 'Chimy' Ávila haring across the pitch, tirelessly closing down opponents has come to haunt the nightmares of La Liga defenders over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old Argentinian can couple his doggedness with a clinical finish having hit 19 top flight goals across one and a half seasons with Huesca and Osasuna - two sides well and truly outside of Spain's elite.
The diminutive forward suffered a nasty knee injury shortly before the enforced hiatus (also ending his chances of a Barcelona move) but could return for the end of the current La Liga season given the protracted nature of this year's campaign.
His tenacity and endeavour make him perfectly suited for Klopp's press-oriented system and imagine the goal return he could boast if he was graced with the supply provided by Trent Alexander-Arnold and co in place of the scraps he has been forced to feed off.
His release clause? Just €25m (£22m).
Source : 90min