Forget Teun Koopmeiners - Richard Hughes could be about to scout two Atalanta players for Liverpool

Gianluca Scamacca (r) of Atalanta BC celebrates with Matteo Ruggeri of Atalanta BC after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Quarter-Final first leg match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta at Anfield on April 11, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Gianluca Scamacca (r) of Atalanta BC celebrates with Matteo Ruggeri of Atalanta BC after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Quarter-Final first leg match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta at Anfield on April 11, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Gianluca Scamacca (r) of Atalanta BC celebrates with Matteo Ruggeri of Atalanta BC after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Quarter-Final first leg match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta at Anfield on April 11, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Liverpool prepare to face Atalanta in the Europa League quarter-final second leg after a 3-0 defeat at Anfield last week.

Home fans inside Anfield were not bitter nor begrudging as Atalanta celebrated a famous victory.

Despite Liverpool's Europa League aspirations being delivered a hammer blow and suffering a first defeat at L4 in 14 months, supporters were magnanimous. As Atalanta's players made their way back to the visiting dressing room following a 3-0 victory, Kopites who remained in the stadium applauded.

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They knew the Reds had been deservedly beaten. It was a shock defeat against a side who sit just sixth in Serie A. In truth, La Dea's position in the Italian top flight might be just as big of a surprise based on their performance against Liverpool.

And when the Reds play the reverse clash in Bergamo tonight, perhaps Michael Edwards and incoming sporting director Richard Hughes may take a closer look at Atalanta's troops with the summer transfer window looming.

Rasmus Hojlund was sold by Atalanta to Manchester United for £64 million last summer while Tottenham purchased Cristian Romero for £42.5 million in 2022. La Dea have also allowed the likes of Franck Kessié and Bryan Cristante to depart for significant fees in the past. It shows La Dea are willing to do business.

Atalanta's talisman Teun Koopmeiners was linked with Liverpool last summer. Amid a midfield rebuild, the Holland international was indeed a name touted around. But with the Reds opting to recruit Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch, the Reds are well-equipped for the No.8 roles with Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott among the options.

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Koopmeiners displayed his quality at Anfield and it was understandable why the Liverpool scouting department have kept an eye on him. But an attack-minded engine-room operator is unlikely to be part of the club's summer recruitment plan.

One long-term position that the Reds may need, however, is in defensive midfield. Wataru Endo deserves credit aplenty for proving the doubters wrong after his surprise arrival from Stuttgart. After missing out on Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, swathes of supporters were underwhelmed at the time - but the Japan international has become a key cog in Klopp's side. Yet aged 31, more competition could be coveted. Stefan Bajcetic is very much a player for the future and should not be forgotten despite being plagued with fitness issues this term. But someone whose career is split between Endo and Bajcetic could appeal, the profile of a player with experience but still to peak.

In Atalanta's current set-up, Ederson fills the screening role. The 24-year-old is La Dea's third-best performer this term according to WhoScored and impressed against Liverpool. Ederson won two tackles, made two clearances and an interception as the Reds were left frustrated. Ederson has also displayed his qualities in the final third, having bagged seven goals in 41 games this term. The Brazilian has recently been linked with Tottenham and Newcastle United.

Meanwhile, Liverpool will also have to unearth a replacement for Andy Robertson down the line. The Scotland international has been at the fulcrum of the success delivered under Klopp. At his zenith, there was arguably no better left-back. And in recent weeks, Robertson has underlined how important he remains.

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Still, Liverpool will eventually have to find a successor, with Robertson now 30. Matteo Ruggeri has enjoyed a decent campaign for Atalanta. He's been La Dea's regular wing-back on the left flank, recording one goal and six assists in 36 appearances. Last summer, AC Milan were reportedly keen on signing Ruggeri to deputise for Theo Hernandez and willing to pay an €8m loan fee. Per Whoscored, Ruggeri is the fifth-best performer in the Europa League aged 21 or below this season.

Hughes grew up playing for Atalanta’s academy while living in Italy as a youngster. He’ll no doubt be hoping his soon-to-be employers defeat his former club - but may well be keeping tabs on some of the home players.

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