Liverpool handed boost in €40m striker pursuit as director confirms Jan move ‘not ruled out’

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund has not ruled out the January sale of reported Liverpool target Noah Okafor.

Okafor is part of Switzerland’s World Cup squad and goes into the tournament in excellent form.

After a stellar 2021-22 campaign in which he provided 25 goal contributions across 34 appearances, the 22-year-old has ten goals and two assists in 22 matches this term.

He scored in all three of Salzburg’s opening Champions League matches and has two in his last three Austrian Bundesliga games.

And unsurprisingly, his form is attracting the attention of many top clubs.

Earlier this month it was reported that Arsenal are ‘leading the race’ to sign the young Swiss with Mikel Arteta looking to sign a versatile forward.

The Gunners have been heavily linked with Orlando City’s Facundo Torres and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk, with the latter reported to be their top target.

However, more recently, Liverpool, Manchester City and AC Milan have been linked with Okafor.

On Monday, journalist Florian Plettenberg stated that a transfer in the winter window ‘is possible’.

Despite their need for a new striker, the Sky Germany correspondent says Manchester United are ‘not in’ the equation.

The World Cup could change a lot, however.

If Okafor has a stellar tournament for the Swiss national side, his valuation could skyrocket and Salzburg may see January as the best time to cash in.

Furthermore, more clubs could become interested if he shines in Qatar, such as United.

Writing on Twitter, Plettenberg said: “Okafor: Transfer in winter is possible!

“No negotiations now but there’s is an interest from clubs like MCFC, LFC & AC Milan. Been told that United is not in.

“World Cup very important now. Price tag could be around €35-40m. Top season with Salzburg so far.”

And Salzburg director Freund – who was recently linked with a move to Chelsea – has said a winter transfer could be on the cards.

“I think a bit more will happen in the transfer market than in recent years,” Freund told Sky Austria.

“Okafor really took off last year.

“I hope that he plays a good World Cup, then the Noah Okafor stock can become very interesting. I am not ruling it out.”

Freund has practically said he hopes Okafor does well at the World Cup so he becomes available for an extortionate price.

Liverpool have signed Luis Diaz, Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez this year but are still being linked with a lot of forwards.

Having said that, Diaz has been out through injury for a large part of the season, while Carvalho and Darwin are still getting used to life at Anfield.

Sadio Mane’s summer exit has left a huge gap to fill, with Diogo Jota also struggling with injuries.

Roberto Firmino has been in good goal scoring form this term, but is out of contract in 2023.

Plettenberg also had an update on the situation surrounding a new deal for the Brazilian.

The journalist says that Liverpool and Firmino are not in the ‘final steps’ of agreeing an extension, but says talks are ‘progressing very well’.

Firmino has a ‘perfect’ relationship with manager Jurgen Klopp and can ‘really imagine’ staying at Anfield beyond the end of 2022-23.

READ MORE: World Cup snub: A Premier League XI of players who didn’t make the planes

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