As Liverpool seeks to find at least one more midfielder (and ideally two more) this summer, manager Jürgen Klopp and his sporting director Jörg Schmadtke might face something of a transfer problem.
Though neither has yet been confirmed, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho's well-publicized moves to Saudi Arabia will net Liverpool around $67m (£52m/€60m) that it can then reinvest, but every side that it turns to will know that the Reds are in desperate need of reinforcements in the center of the pitch.
In conjunction with some sky-high valuations this summer, caused largely by the wealth of the Premier League clubs meaning that sides in the bottom half of the table are under less pressure to cash in, the market is not going to provide an easy solution.
According to The Times, Chelsea has turned down an opening offer of $54m (£42m/€49m) from West Ham United for its midfielder, Conor Gallagher, a player that the ECHO reported was being considered by Liverpool heading into the summer.
While Liverpool was never likely to view Gallagher as a priority — the 23-year-old was an option considered, but never the top pick — that opening bid says plenty about the kinds of fees required to sign players at the moment.
But at this point in the summer, when Liverpool's need for more midfielders has become clear to everyone — including the clubs that might be willing to sell the Reds one — the chances of a similar level of steal being found are slim.
West Ham opening the bidding at $54m for Gallagher is a sign of where the transfer market is currently at. Outside of the Premier League, only Jude Bellingham, Manuel Ugarte and Rúben Neves have moved for bigger sums than that this summer — to Real Madrid, PSG, and Saudi Arabia.
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Part of that will be that Gallager is homegrown, which is important, and part of it will also be the fact that, like Liverpool, everyone knows West Ham has a need for midfielders, as well as money from the sale of Rice burning a hole in its pocket.
But in that $54m context, Roméo Lavia, valued at $64m (£50m/€58m) by Southampton, suddenly looks a lot better value. He too would be classed as a homegrown player when he becomes old enough, having come through at Manchester City. In the meantime, he does not need to be placed on any squad list as he is only 19.
Lavia also has a higher ceiling as a player than Gallagher, who has not done enough to show that he can make it at the level that Chelsea (and Liverpool) are hoping to reach.
With movement needing to come imminently on the midfield front for Liverpool, Gallagher is the latest reminder of the current transfer picture. If $54m was refused for his signature, what exactly would it take for Chelsea to sell a player who would be an underwhelming addition at Anfield?
Getting someone better in than Gallagher is almost certainly going to cost more, and with time ticking down toward the kick-off of the 2023/24 season, Liverpool is simply going to have to bite the bullet.