The Premier League kicks off this weekend and one of the most highly anticipated games of the opening weekend sees Chelsea host Liverpool – but not necessarily because of on-field matters.
The build-up to this game has been focused less on the teams’ first match of the new campaign and how they will do this season and more about which club might sign Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Moisés Caicedo.
In one of the most topsy-turvy transfer sagas of recent history, Caicedo is being pursued by Liverpool and reportedly by Chelsea with nobody seemingly knowing which the 21-year-old will play for.
Liverpool has made a £111 million ($141 million) bid for the midfielder, but whether the Ecuadorian international signs for the 2019 Premier League champion remains to be seen.
Liverpool head coach Jürgen Klopp confirmed in a press conference on Friday that the club had agreed a transfer fee with Brighton for Caicedo.
The BBC reported the fee for the Brighton star is $141 million, which would break the British and Premier League transfer record. The record is currently held by Chelsea after the London club paid Benfica £107m ($135 million) for Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez earlier this year.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Klopp said: “I got told I can confirm a deal with [Brighton] is agreed.
“What did change is that we are a club with not endless resources, so things we didn’t expect, a couple of things happening in the summer [Jordan Henderson and Fabinho leaving], stuff like this,” added Klopp, referring to the two former Liverpool midfielders, who have recently joined clubs in Saudi Arabia.
“We didn’t think about that before the summer, to be honest and when it happened, we gave it a go and obviously, the club was really stretched there, to be honest.”
However, in an extraordinary turn of events, Liverpool’s hopes of signing the 21-year-old midfielder appear premature with Caicedo reportedly, according to Sky Sports, favoring a move to Chelsea.
After arriving at Brighton from Independiente del Valle for £4.5 million ($5.7 million), Ecuadorian midfielder Caicedo has impressed during his time in the Premier League.
Following his performances, Caicedo has been highly sought after by some of England’s biggest clubs.
Arsenal reportedly bid for the 21-year-old midfielder in this year’s January transfer window, and Chelsea have long been linked with the Brighton star.
During the January transfer window Caicedo took to Instagram to plead for a move away. Caicedo was also reportedly told to steer clear of the Brighton training ground until the window closed, though he then signed a new-long term contract with the south coast club in March.
“I have already forgotten about Moises,” Brighton manager De Zerbi told a media conference on Friday. “I’m really proud of the players we have in the squad.
“We want to keep improving. The credit goes to the club. Bigger clubs can buy our players but they can’t buy our soul or spirit.
“We are Brighton, we achieved a big target last year – the same as Liverpool, better than Chelsea. I would like players who are proud to play in Brighton.”
The new Premier League season gets underway Friday with reigning champion Manchester City heading to newly promoted Burnley.