Jarrod Bowen to Liverpool: the West Ham forward’s potential auditon as Roberto Firmino’s possible replacement
Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of the Hammers player and he’s someone the Reds could swoop for depending on the Brazil international’s situation.
It's a battle between two sides who both have lofty ambitions for the season.
Liverpool firmly have their gaze fixed on the Premier League title and are desperate to haul the crown they claimed in 2020 back.
A challenge for a seventh Champions League is also on track, having qualified from the group stage with two matches to spare.
Europe's elite competition is where West Ham are hoping they'll be for the first time next term.
The Hammers have proven finishing sixth last campaign was no fluke and sit fourth in the top flight as the table begins to take shape.
David Moyes has carried out a sterling job at the London Stadium. They can now be recognised as a bona fide contender to upsetting the status quo of the so-called big six.
There's an array of talent in the West Ham dressing - with Jurgen Klopp believed to be a big admirer of one in particular.
It was reported in the summer that Liverpool were keeping tabs on Jarrod Bowen.
The Athletic claimed that Klopp highly rates the versatile forward and he was one of several players the Reds were considering a move for.
And speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's game, Klopp even admitted he's a huge fan.
Nothing concrete came to fruition from the Anfield end, though, as Liverpool tightened their belt given the financial impact the Covid-19 pandemic had. Just Ibrahima Konate was recruited.
At the closure of the window, however, large sections of fans and pundits alike thought the Reds were an attacking player short.
While Klopp bragged four high-quality options in Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, there was a concern that Liverpool were wasn't enough cast-iron quality behind.
Compared to the embarrassment of riches that Manchester City, Chelsea and even Manchester United boasted, the Reds were well behind.
There's still a feeling that Liverpool have left themselves light in the final third, despite the unbeaten start in the league and qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Those claims have been intensified following Firmino suffering a second hamstring injury of the campaign. Having been out for a month last time, he appears set for another sustained spell on the treatment table.
Beneath Salah, Mane and Jota, there's a genuine concern about the dearth of quality.
Divock Origi's had his memorable moments at Anfield and will always remain in club folklore. However, there are doubts around whether he's capable of stepping up and taking on the mantle if one of the aforementioned trio also pick up an issue.
Meanwhile, Takumi Minamino might be a prolific goalscorer in the Carabao - Cup but there's still a lot to be desired when it comes to his time at Anfield. It's approaching two years since his arrival from Red Bull Salzburg and he simply hasn't made the grade yet.
Potential Firmino replacement
Firmino is in the final 18 months of his current contract.
Already this season, a swathe of players including Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Alisson have penned fresh terms and committed their respective futures.
Liverpool are also desperately been trying to tie down Salah to a long-term deal.
However, talk of an extension for Firmino has been subdued, at best. There has been no clamour from supporters to get him signed up for longer, unlike Salah.
Now aged 30, owners Fenway Sports Group may have a dilemma heading into next summer.
If they're not to hand Firmino a new contract then Liverpool could well look to cash in on him at the end of this season.
That eliminates losing the former Hoffenheim forward on a free transfer a year later as they did with Gini Wijnaldum.
Both Bayern Munich and AC Milan have been linked as potential suitors.
If Firmino was to depart, he would need replacing - and Bowen could be the man. He's still just 24 and several years away from hitting his pinnacle.
What's more, Bowen would help the Reds meet the homegrown players rule. Premier League clubs need eight of their 25-man squads to have come through the youth ranks in England or Wales.
If Liverpool were to recruit Bowen, they'd be signing someone who's not a natural striker.
At West Ham, he generally plays on the right flank where he's able to cut inside onto his left foot.
There'd be no chance of claiming that spot on Merseyside. That's the best player in the world's undisputed role.
However, Klopp could have designs on morphing Bowen into a central striker as he did with Firmino.
Former manager Brendan Rodgers struggled to find a role for Firmino after his £29 million arrival in 2015.
He was used as a number, on the flanks and, bizarrely, as a wing-back in a 3-1 loss at Manchester United. The less said about that, the better.
But after Klopp succeeded Rodgers in the Anfield driving seat, he shaped Firmino into a centre-forward.
Not your typical striker but as a false nine who knits play together. Firmino might not be a prolific goalscorer but his unselfish link-up play is why Salah and Mane have thrived over the past few years. His role has never gone underestimated.
Bowen's a similar build to Firmino, with bundles of energy and a low centre of gravity that makes him a defender's nightmare.
It might take a bit of time to adapt but plenty of Klopp's recruits need a period of patience. Just ask Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Kostas Tsimikas.
Where would Bowen need to improve?
Klopp's relentless pressing style has been the hallmark of Liverpool's success.
Firmino's been the player so many times who's led from the front. He's been Klopp's trusted lieutenant, his leader on the pitch when the opposition needs to be squeezed.
That's an area of Bowen's game he would need to develop.
According to FBref.com, he's attempted 154 pressures so far this season, executing 37. That's a success rate of 24%.
Firmino, on the other hand, has attempted 93 pressures and 32 have paid off - a success rate of 34.4%.
In terms of goal contributions, they’d also need to increase.
This season, Bowen’s netted three times and has created just as many in 16 games - a highly respectable total.
But Firmino has netted six games and registered one assist in only 11 appearances.
Bowen cost West Ham in excess of £20 million from Hull in April 2020.
The east London outfit would undoubtedly want to make a profit on Bowen if they were to cash in.
And it's the Hammers who hold all of the bargaining chips. He's under contract until the summer of 2025 so are under no pressure to sell.
The Athletic has previously claimed that West Ham would want at least £35 million for Bowen when Liverpool were linked in the summer.
That's a figure that the Reds aren't averse to paying, having stumped up similar for Ibrahima Konate in the most recent window.
But, crucially, they'd have to balance if it'd be value for money.