Liverpool set to lose out on major transfer target

Martin Macdonald
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Liverpool are set to lose out on one of their prime transfer targets this summer who was being sought as a replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum.

Christoph Baumgartner, a 21-year-old Hoffenheim central midfielder, has emerged as one of the most talented young prospects in the Bundesliga.

After impressing for Hoffenheim II, Baumgartner was promoted to the senior squad and given his first-team debut by Julian Nagelsmann as a half-time substitute in a game against Schalke in May of 2019.

The next season in 2019/20 he was a full member of the senior squad and went on to make 17 starts in the Bundesliga, scoring seven goals and assisting a further two.

He would continue his impressive form into 2020/21, with him scoring six goals and assisting three more in 28 starts.

Baumgartner is usually deployed behind the striker but can feature in a deeper area in midfield, too, while he has, on occasion, been asked to play on the wing and cut inside into the central area.

Liverpool view him as a potential replacement for Wijnaldum, who left Anfield on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in June.

My clear plan is to play for Hoffenheim next season
- Christoph Baumgartner

Hoffenheim, like most other clubs in Europe, after suffering from increased financial difficulties due to the current pandemic, and so would reportedly be willing to part with Baumgartner for as little as £16m [€18m] despite him being viewed as the golden boy of the club.

However, judging by comments from the player himself, the German side need not worry about him leaving just yet.

What has Baumgartner said?

"My clear plan is to play for Hoffenheim next season," he told Sport Bild when asked about a potential move to Liverpool or the Premier League.

Baumgartner recently signed a new contract to keep him with Hoffenheim until 2025, and he insists he wouldn't have put pen to paper if his intention was to leave that summer.

"I definitely extended my contract in March with the intention to play here next season," he added.

"I believe I have the biggest opportunity to develop further here. For me, that means playing consistently at a high level with more room for improvement."

The young midfielder was already a known entity within Europe ahead of the European Championship, but his stock has risen further following a couple of impressive performances for Austria.

He scored the vital goal to take his nation out of the group stage versus Ukraine, and started the first knockout stage fixture versus Italy which Austria would go on to lose in extra time.