Adama Traore to Liverpool: Would the Wolves winger be a good signing for Klopp?
The future of Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Adama Traore has been a regular feature in the headlines over recent months, thanks largely to his improved displays this season.
The Spaniard has always been blessed with electric pace - an innate attribute it can be impossible to defend against at times, particularly when complemented by his raw power.
On paper, Traore should have been a star for years already; his physical abilities have been world-class for some time, to the point where if you were creating a dream player on FIFA, Traore would be near the top of the list for pace and power.
When it comes to a mixture of the two, he is arguably peerless in football.
What let him down in the past was his end product, which hinted at a technical deficiency which did not match his physical strengths.
It is a perplexing shortcoming considering he spent 11 years as a youngster at Barcelona, where La Masia academy is famed for producing players with near-perfect technique such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
Of course, Traore is an entirely different player to those Camp Nou stalwarts, but considering he joined the club as an eight-year-old and stayed until he was 19, coming through the ranks and making four appearances for the senior team, it is curious that it has taken so long for that end product to improve.
A career progression of Barcelona to Aston Villa to Middlesbrough is a sign of the problems he had - the potential for a truly special player has always been there, but the consistency was sorely lacking.
Digging further into his statistics at those clubs paints an even more confusing picture, failing to start a single league game for Aston Villa in either the Premier League or the Championship, and then making only 16 top-flight starts for Middlesbrough in a campaign that ended in relegation.
Traore was more involved in his second season at the Riverside, but even during his first season at Wolves he was used only eight times from the start by Nuno Espirito Santo.
Those are hardly statistics you would associate with a player who, less than one season later, is now regarded as one of the most dangerous and devastating wingers in world football. One on whom a host of Europe's biggest clubs - including the reigning European champions Liverpool - are considering spending a lot of money.
A sustained spell in the starting lineup has certainly helped his cause - he has made 43 appearances across all competitions this season, and unsurprisingly has recorded the best single-season figures of his career with a third of the campaign still to go.
There is still a sense that his tally of six goals and 10 assists from those 43 games is below what he should be getting, though; compare it to the very best wingers in the world - the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and the admittedly incomparable Messi - and Traore is still a long, long way adrift of keeping such company.
However, a move to Liverpool could catapult him into that sphere. He need only look as far as Sadio Mane for evidence of that; the Senegal international was similarly raw and inconsistent before he joined Liverpool, but he is now being touted as a possible Ballon d'Or winner.
There is no reason why Traore could not also join that conversation given the natural tools at his disposal, and Jurgen Klopp has a respected reputation for improving players significantly - Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are all proof of that.
Of course, mentioning those three players throws up the biggest obstacle aside from money to Traore joining Liverpool.
Only a select handful of players could arrive at the club and realistically expect to break up that front three on a regular basis, and Traore is not in that small group - at least not yet.
The relentless goal output of Salah and Mane, perfectly complemented by the vision and guile of Firmino, has made that front three one of the most feared and effective in world football, firing Liverpool to domestic, European and worldwide glory.
Traore would be arriving at Anfield as a backup, although given his previous reputation as an impact sub that would be nothing new to him. Whether he would be happy with that role considering his performances this season is another matter.
The 24-year-old has shown that he can indulge us with his unstoppable and unanswerable best against the big teams this season; he was a persistent thorn in the side of Liverpool themselves during their most recent meeting, while he boasts three goals and an assist from two games against Manchester City in 2019-20.
That record against Liverpool's closest title rivals could be enough for them to sign him alone, but the prospect of being able to bring on an impact sub like Traore, rather than Divock Origi or Takumi Minamino, on the rare occasion their front three are finding things difficult would strike yet more fear into the rest of the league.
The likelihood of Liverpool repeating their unprecedented level of dominance from 2019-20 next season is incredibly slim, but Traore could well give them the X-factor they need to once again be the undisputed team to beat.
Such a statement almost requires an asterisk with Traore, though, and perhaps the main task for him to achieve next is to lessen the gulf between his best displays and his worst displays. On form he is unstoppable, out of form he is unremarkable, and both happen regularly throughout the season.
It is not as though he will be short of starting chances at Liverpool, though; Mane and Salah are both due to miss a large chunk of next term due to the Africa Cup of Nations, while there would also be the Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup to compete in alongside the Premier League.
The major stumbling block appears to be money - Liverpool have even reportedly dropped their interest in Timo Werner for that reason, despite the Germany international boasting goalscoring figures which would ordinarily command a fee way in excess of his £51m release clause.
However, if the reports that Klopp has personally contacted Traore are to be believed then it certainly appears to be a signing which would make sense for the champions-elect.
It has been difficult to identify areas of improvement for the Reds as they have swept all before them this season, but only a very small group of players are genuinely unstoppable and Traore - on his day - is one of those.