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There’s a real sense of irony in the idea that, six years after offering £18.5 million for a teenage Franck Kessie, Liverpool could sign a far more mature, well-rounded and established version of the same player without spending a single penny. 

Kessie was just 19 when the Premier League giants came calling for the first time, in 2016. 

The barrel-chested Ivorian was the talk of Serie A at the time too. Then again, scoring four times in your first three games in Italy’s top flight, including a stunning opening-day brace against Lazio, will certainly put you in the limelight.

Comparisons with compatriot Yaya Toure, then, were inevitable.

Kessie, after all, seemed to possess the same lust for goals as the Manchester City legend, breaking into the penalty area before finishing off chances with a confidence belying his tender age. 

These days, however, the 24-year-old Kessie is a more disciplined, defensively minded midfielder.

Yes, he scored a career-best 13 goals as Milan flirted with a Scudetto challenge before settling for Champions League qualification last season but 11 of those came from the penalty spot. 

Should Kessie finally end up at Anfield next summer, Liverpool fans should expect a player more akin to Jordan Henderson – a natural-born leader, tactically aware and blessed with a fine passing range – than a West African Steven Gerrard. 

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Is Franck Kessie finally heading to Liverpool?

According to Il Milanista, Liverpool have identified Kessie as an alternative to Fabinho in the number six position – suggesting the one-time Cesena loanee would play a deeper role at Anfield than he’s used to at the San Siro. 

And, back in Milan, fears are growing a man valued at about £43 million only two months ago could soon leave for nothing.

Kessie is out of contract next summer and, as in the cases of Hakan Calhanoglu and Gigi Donnarumma – both of whom left before the September deadline – Milan are unwilling to bow down to expansive salary demands. 

Kessie apparently wants £115,000 a year plus bonuses – more than the Rossoneri are willing – or capable – of offering as things stand.  

Liverpool have shown in the past they are willing to wait for their top targets to become available, landing Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker after lengthy transfer sagas.

And should Kessie finally arrive next year, that patience really will have paid off. 

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