Liverpool Opinion: Reds could have a gem on their hands in the future if they sign Bilel Hassaini on a free transfer
According to the Daily Express, Liverpool have leapfrogged Premier League rivals Arsenal in the race to sign in-demand French teenage prospect Bilel Hassaini, with a number of other clubs also circling around like sharks to snap up the 18-year-old.
Hassaini, who is yet to make his senior professional debut in club football, spent this past season at AS Nancy Lorraine but he is currently out of contract at his current club and talks over the new deal have so far failed to reach a positive end. (h/t Express)
Express understands that Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne have already held talks with the 18-year-old free agent, while Barcelona and PSG have also been credited with an interest in the immensely talented attacking midfielder.
Hassaini might still be a completely unknown entity to the fans in England but he has been making waves with his performances for France at the youth level.
The fleet-footed teenage sensation earned as many as 15 caps for his nation at the U-16 level before making the step up to the U-17 circuit, where he has already accumulated 11 appearances.
The 18-year-old, who is held in high regard by the youth coaches in his homeland, might be on his way to England this summer, with Arsenal and Liverpool touted as potential destinations.
A technically-gifted left-footed youngster, Hassaini is essentially a right-winger by trade but he is capable of playing anywhere across the forward line and also in the hole behind the main striker.
Not a lot is known about his style and attributes, given that he is yet to make his senior debut. However, he looks like a real talent at this stage of his career and the interest from elite European clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona and PSG certainly lies testimony to that.
Interestingly, Liverpool are understood to be in the market for a new central attacking playmaker this summer, with Jurgen Klopp yet to find a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who departed for Barcelona more than 18 months ago. Bilel Hassaini is a player in the same mould, although he is likely to be considered as one for the future at Anfield, given that he is just 18.
Liverpool might as well be forced to invest in a more established player if they are looking for someone who could come through the door and make an immediate impact in the Premier League next season.
Hassaini is clearly not going to be considered for a first-team role next season, and even if a move does materialize, the Frenchman would probably link up with the reserve side.
One of the hallmarks of Klopp’s reign at Anfield has been the reinstatement of a clear pathway from the club’s academy ranks to the first-team, allowing several youngsters to make their mark at the senior level.
The likes of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been the biggest beneficiaries of that, whilst the likes of Rafael Camacho and Ki-Jana Hoever also made their senior debuts last season.
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Hence, Bilel Hassaini, who also boasts of massive potential, is likely to get his opportunity in the years to come if he manages to impress the staff with his development.
All in all, Liverpool should not hesitate to make the 18-year-old their second signing of the summer following the acquisition of 17-year-old Dutch defensive sensation Sepp van den Berg.