Liverpool's January transfer targets: Michael Keane and Geoffrey Kondogbia linked with Anfield move

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Michael Keane of Burnley celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Burnley and Wat

Liverpool entered the international break just two points behind league leaders Manchester City after a four-match winning streak.

Jurgen Klopp's side have convincingly swept aside reigning Premier League champions Leicester City, Arsenal and Chelsea as well as taking a point off an undefeated Tottenham side at White Hart Lane. 

However, there are still the same concerns over Liverpool's inability to keep a clean sheet, something which will undoubtedly hinder a title challenge. The Merseyside club have conceded the most goals in the league's top 10 and are on course to concede over 50 goals this season.

Liverpool resisted the urge to dip into the January transfer market last season but if their form continues and they are still in the title picture after the busy Christmas period, Klopp may use the window to bring in reinforcements.

Live Monday Night Football

With the help of our friends at Football Whispers, whose unique algorithm tracks the likelihood of deals being done, here are a few of names who are likely to be linked with a move to Anfield…

Niklas Sule

XXX during the Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and Hamburger SV at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena Sinsheim on February 1, 2014 in Sinsheim, Germany.
Image: Hoffenheim's Niklas Sule has been linked with a move to Liverpool

Current Club: TSG Hoffenheim

Position: Centre-back

Also See:

Linked By: Daily Mail and Bild

Current Football Whispers Rating: 1.9

Highest Football Whispers Rating:  3.6 (23rd May 2016)

Towards the end of May the Daily Mail linked the 21-year-old with a move to Liverpool but nothing materialised as the club opted to bring in Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan.

However, according to German outlet Bild, the Reds interest in the centre-back appears to have been reignited. The report suggests Liverpool are exploring the possibility of signing the German in January in the hope the 6'5" giant puts an end to their defensive aerial struggles.

This was eluded to on Monday Night Football by Jurgen Klopp when appearing as a guest last month, stating that the team are notorious for conceding an alarming amount of their chances from crosses and set pieces.

ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA - MARCH 29: Nikolai Komlichenko (L) of Russia U21 challenged by Niklas Sule of Germany U21 during the 2017 UEFA European U21 Champion
Image: Sule represented Germany U23 at the Rio olympics

Sule, an Olympic silver medalist, has caught the eye of many of Europe's big clubs due to his imposing presence, reading of the game and ability on the ball as well as his defensive intelligence. This season so far he's won 13 tackles, six aerial duels and has managed 10 interceptions. Another standout trait, and one that may make him an attractive proposition for Liverpool, is his passing ability. On average he makes 54 passes per 90 minutes and has a 90 per cent pass success rate.

Another appealing trait is his discipline. Despite Bundesliga's frantic pace, he rarely commits fouls. Having appeared 33 times in the league during the 2015/16 season, he picked up just four yellow cards and has carried on in a similar vein this season, featuring five times in the league without picking up a caution.

Michael Keane

England's Michael Keane during a training session at St George's Park
Image: Keane's form has seen him called up by Gareth Southgate for England duty

Current Club: Burnley

Position: Centre-back

Linked By: Kop Talk

Current Football Whispers Rating: 1.0

Highest Football Whispers Rating:  1.4 (3rd October 2016)

Keane's rise has been meteoric. The Stockport-born defender started his career at Manchester United and made his debut for his boyhood club in the League Cup in 2012. He then made his Premier League debut for the Red Devils in August 2014.

Watch NOW TV

Watch NOW TV

Watch Sky Sports for just £6.99. No contract.

Sandwiched between these two debuts for United were loan spells at Leicester, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers. However, it wasn't until a loan move to Burnley in September 2014, which was made permanent in January 2015 for a reported £2.5m, that Keane's career started to develop.

He missed just two Championship games last season as Burnley won promotion back to the Premier League and his form alerted the likes of Leicester, who reportedly had a £17m bid turned down, as well as Chelsea, whose reported £25m bid in August was rejected before the London club moved on to sign David Luiz.

Michael Keane outjumps Robert Huth
Image: Keane has been in impressive form for Burnley so far this season

One of his strengths is just how dominant he is in the air, winning 15 aerial duels in his seven league games this season. Burnley may be a defensive side but Keane manages to complete 81 per cent of the 31 passes he attempts on average per 90 minutes.

Keane's imposing performances so far this season, coupled with the fact he has less than two years remaining on his current deal, mean Burnley may have a task keeping hold of their centre-back in January.

Alternatively, Klopp may opt to stick with Dejan Lovren. The Croat's form since the appointment of the German has been close to that which convinced Liverpool to pay £20m to sign him from Southampton in 2014.

Liverpool's Defensive Options
Image: Liverpool's Defensive Options - Football Whispers

The 27-year-old has won 22 aerial duels and made 13 interceptions already and of the 60 passes he attempts on average per 90 minutes he completes 84 per cent of them. There are signs of an understanding starting to form with Joel Matip at the heart of the defence.

Leonardo Pavoletti

GENOA, ITALY - MAY 08:  Leonardo Pavoletti of Genoa CFC celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and Genoa C
Image: Leonardo Pavoletti has scored twice in Serie A so far this season

Current Club: Genoa

Position: Striker

Linked By: Tuttomercatoweb

Current Football Whispers Rating: 1.4

Highest Football Whispers Rating: 1.9 (7th October 2016)

The 27-year-old striker had a bit of a nomadic career before finding a home at Serie A team Genoa. Since making his debut in 2006, Pavoletti has played for nine teams but it wasn't until his €4m move to Genoa, and the 14 goals and three assists in just 1,917 minutes throughout the 2015/16 season that big teams started to take note. Italian striker Pavoletti is a brute in the air and since joining Genoa and has won four aerial duels per 90 minutes.

FLORENCE, ITALY - MAY 19:  Leonardo Pavoletti of Italy speaks to the media during a press conference at the club's training ground at Coverciano on May 19,
Image: Pavoletti has been called up by Italy

However, he's far from just a target-man and he doesn't just rely on crosses to score his goals. He's industrious, he work's hard when not in possession, a necessity in a Klopp side, and his movement in the final third makes him a real goal threat.

If Liverpool did want an aerial presence in their arsenal then Pavoletti is one of the few who provides that as well as work-rate. However at the moment, a move doesn't look imminent with the Football Whispers index score ranking the move a 1.4 out of 5.

Geoffrey Kondogbia

MILAN, ITALY - AUGUST 28:  Geoffrey Kondogbia of Internazionale in action during the Seria A match between FC Internazionale and US Citta di Palermo at Sta
Image: Geoffrey Kondogbia has made four appearances for Inter this season but has been openly criticised by manager Frank De Boer for his performances

Current Club: Inter Milan

Position: Midfielder

Linked By: Web Calcio

Current Football Whispers Rating: 3.5

Highest Football Whispers Rating: 3.6 (9th October 2016)

Geoffrey Kondogbia and Paul Pogba. That was supposed to be the France midfield for Euro 2016 when both players initially broke through in 2012. It was almost a formality but after Kondogbia failed to settle at Inter Milan following his €31m move in the summer of 2015 he missed out on the squad entirely.

New Nerazzurri boss Frank de Boer has openly criticised Kondogbia's performances this season and the entire San Siro applauded when De Boer substituted the player against Bologna after only 28 minutes.

EMPOLI, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 21: Assane Diousse of Empoli FC battles for the ball with Geoffrey Kondogbia of FC Internazionale during the Serie A match betwee
Image: Kondogbia cost Inter €31m in the summer of 2015

The midfielder has failed to feature in three of Inter's last five Serie A matches with Ever Banega, Joao Mario and Gary Medel being the first choice trio ahead of him.

Kondogbia would be a welcome addition to the Liverpool midfield as the club look to shore up defensively but not limit their attacking ability. Throughout his entire career Kondogbia has averaged 2.7 tackles and 1.5 interceptions with 87 per cent of his 45 passes finding a teammate per 90 minutes.

Comparisons to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira have been made and it's easy to see why. He has the sort of playing profile which would see him thrive in the Premier League. With the Football Whispers index score ranking the move a 3.5 it will be interesting to see how it plays out as January approaches.

You can watch England's tour of Bangladesh, plus Premier League football and the British Masters on Sky Sports. Upgrade now and enjoy three months at half price!

Around Sky