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Klopp played down speculation

Klopp played down speculation

PA

Klopp played down speculation

Liverpool are close to agreeing a fee with Bayern Munich for the transfer of Thiago Alcantara.

The Premier League champions have begun discussions with the Champions League winners after being heavily linked with the Spain playmaker throughout the summer.

It is understood the Reds would pay an initial fee of £20million for the midfielder, who has one year remaining on his contract at Bayern, with more to follow in add-ons.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had previously tried to play down the speculation.

"It is nice that we are linked with him but that is pretty much all, really," The German said last week.

That came amid claims a potential move for the 29-year-old was being held up by uncertainty over the future of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Dutchman, who is in the final year of his contract at Anfield, has been linked with Barcelona.

Liverpool, however, have decided to make their move for Thiago now, with the issue not appearing dependent on whether Wijnaldum leaves the club or not.

Bayern manager Hansi Flick said at his press conference yesterday: "Thiago is an exceptional player who spent seven hugely successful years here.

"He's a wonderful person and an outstanding professional. It was very emotional today when he said goodbye to us all."

Thiago would be Liverpool's second addition of the summer after the signing of Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas.

Thiago joined Bayern from Barca in 2013 and was in the side that won the Champions League last month.

Ahead of the clash with Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League during the 2018/19 campaign, Thiago praised Jurgen Klopp's men before the Bundesliga outfit suffered a 3-1 aggregate defeat.

"We know this team. What they are, what they have," he said prior to the first leg.

"They play awesome football these past years, and they increase every year. They are fighting in the Premier League now with Manchester City.

In another interview, Thiago said Liverpool's midfield "pressed like animals" and specifically named Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as players who "ate up the midfield".