Exclusive - Liverpool have warned RB Leipzig that they are prepared to consider other attacking targets if the German side do not drop their asking price for Timo Werner.
Werner has a release clause of just over £50m which was widely accepted to be a real bargain before the coronavirus outbreak turned football on its head, and now there are plenty of questions about whether teams will be able to continue splashing out on players like they have done in recent years.
Liverpool are hesitant to pay that full amount, prompting speculation that the deal could be dead. The Mirror state that the Reds have pulled out of talks altogether, but a source has confirmed to 90min that Liverpool have simply fired Leipzig a warning that they will not be pressured into triggering his release clause.
Despite the fact that manager Jürgen Klopp is a huge fan of Werner, the Reds are not afraid to look elsewhere in search of attacking reinforcements, with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembélé seen as a likely alternative.
Klopp's admiration for Dembélé is no secret. The German was the one to recommend his signature to former side Borussia Dortmund back in 2015 and the idea of finally getting to work with the Frenchman is an exciting prospect for the boss.
With Barcelona desperate to sell to raise money, Dembélé is one of those players being pushed towards the exit door. His asking price is less than half the £100m which Barcelona spent to sign him originally, and La Blaugrana would even accept an initial loan just to get his salary off the books.
Liverpool know that they could get a deal done for Dembélé this summer, and an initial loan would mean they could do so at very little cost for now, so they have informed Leipzig that they would not be scared to look elsewhere if a deal for Werner becomes impossible.
Liverpool are eager to pay around £40m for Werner this summer and hope that the threat of pulling out of the deal, coupled with the fact that his release clause will drop to £36m in 2021, will convince Leipzig to do business for cheaper.
Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff recently insisted to Sport Bild that they would not buckle under any pressure from Liverpool, saying: "It won't get any cheaper. We will not sell a player below value if he is under contract for more than a year.
"In general, we always have to ask the following question – can we replace a player if we sell him for less than his market value?
"But, I only think about those things once I have the facts on the table."
A source close to the situation said: “Liverpool are in a good position, they can wait for Timo Werner and then get him on reduced terms next summer, but the player is not happy to wait and has made it clear he wants to leave. He also knows Liverpool have other options."
Having bagged 30 goals in 39 appearances so far this season, Werner has attracted interest from several of Europe's biggest sides. Liverpool are leading the race for his signature, but a deal is no longer the certainty that it once appeared to be.