Liverpool reportedly rejected by star playmaker, price named for 9-assist alternative

Miralem Pjanic

Liverpool would be wise to turn to a strong alternative with Miralem Pjanic reportedly out of reach.

La Gazzetta dello Sport have reported that Miralem Pjanic has rejected the chance to join Liverpool, while Maurizio Zamparini has put a price-tag of over £18 million on Franco Vazquez.

The Reds have been linked with the Bosnian playmaker since Brendan Rodgers’ trip to Rome last week, with the Mirror claiming talks were on the docket in the Italian capital.

On Wednesday the same source alleged that Liverpool had learned that only a club record offer of £37 million would force Roma to consider selling the midfielder.

Pjanic has become a centrepiece of the Giallorossi project under Rudi Garcia and experienced a breakout year under the Frenchman last season.

Roma were able to tie him down to a contract extension last May, with club president James Pallotta remaining bullish on his future in Rome and Pjanic recently reaffirming his commitment.

Pallotta did admit in an interview with Bleacher Report that a massive offer could potentially tempt him into a sale, however, though Liverpool seemingly have failed to get the approval of the player himself.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Pjanic has spurned the chance to join the Reds in a £37 million deal – as he would only leave Roma for side assured of Champions League football.

With that in mind, Liverpool might be best served turning to an alternative to the 24-year-old, who looks to be out of reach at this point in time.

By Pjanic’s lofty standards, he’s in truth had a rather lacklustre campaign to date. The Bosnian has already matched his assist total from last term with five, but according to WhoScored has dropped off in shots, dribbles and key passes per game.

Meanwhile, the previously unheralded Franco Vazquez has flourished down in Sicily with Palermo, proving possibly the most exciting playmaker in Serie A this term.

The Argentine leads the Italian top flight in dribbles and assists – 75 and nine, respectively – while he has also hit seven goals and ranks in the top 50 for tackles, per Squawka.

Vazquez has combined with Paulo Dybala to form a lethal one-two punch at the Renzo Barbera, primarily playing in the hole behind his junior countryman.

Dybala has received the majority of the press and has long been hunted by the Premier League’s elite, though Vazquez is understandably also attracting glances.

Juventus have been linked with the 25-year-old by RAI, while Napoli have also been rumoured to be interested in him.

This prompted Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini to release a statement on Wednesday, in which he revealed how much it would take to pry Vazquez loose.

“There has not been, nor will there be, any contact between Palermo and Juventus, or between our club and Napoli, for Franco Vazquez,” the statement reads.

“The Argentine will be a reference point for our next football season. We find the methods of false news profoundly unfair.

“However, to discourage approaches, the price of the player is set at over £18 million.”

Zamparini is understandably irked by the idea of losing Vazquez, as Dybala is likely to leave in the summer and the 73-year-old will not want to see his entire attack dismantled.

In January the Rosanero president was successful in renewing Vazquez’s contract, though the midfielder didn’t rule out a summer move in a press conference last month.

The price named suggests that Zamparini will consider selling should the right offer come in, with £18 million substantially less than what Roma demanded for Pjanic.

Vazquez would thus be a worthwhile player for Liverpool to keep an eye on, as he has a similar skill set to the Bosnian and is currently experiencing the season of his life.

At £18 million he would be a great value signing for the Reds and could get even better at Anfield, where Rodgers and company could put his superb talent to good use.

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