Liverpool and Brighton agree to transfer Moises Caicedo, but the deal is not finalized

Liverpool has reached an agreement with Brighton to buy Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Friday, although it remains to be seen whether the club can also convince the player to join.

The deal between the clubs is worth a reported 110 million pounds ($140 million), which would be a record fee for a transfer in Britain.

“The deal with the club (Brighton) is agreed,” Klopp said at a news conference ahead of Liverpool’s opening Premier League game at Chelsea on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Caicedo has yet to agree personal terms or undertake a medical examination. And some reports in the British media say Caicedo would prefer to move to Chelsea, which has shown an interest in the midfielder throughout the offseason.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino wouldn’t confirm if his club was still interested in Caicedo, saying only Friday that he still wanted to add a midfielder to his squad.

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi said he has “already forgotten about Moises.”

“I’m really proud of the players we have in the squad,” De Zerbi said. “We want to keep improving. The credit goes to the club. Bigger clubs can buy our players but they can’t buy our soul or spirit.”

If Caicedo was to move to Liverpool, it would complete a huge offseason overhaul of its midfield, following the arrival of Alexis Mac Allister — also from Brighton — and Dominik Szoboszlai from Leipzig. Five midfielders, notably Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, have left Anfield this summer.

It would surpass the initial fee of 100 million pounds, plus add-ons, that Arsenal paid West Ham for Declan Rice last month. That initial fee was the same as the British-record sum that Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish in 2021.

Whether it’s Liverpool or Chelsea, it continues an extraordinary and rapid rise for Caicedo, who has only played one full season for Brighton after joining from Ecuadorian club Independiente del Valle in 2021. He spent the first half of the 2021-22 season on loan at Beerschot in Belgium.

He quickly became one of the most sought-after midfielders in English soccer, with Chelsea retaining a long-time interest and making multiple offers over the summer — only to be outbid by Liverpool.

Caicedo is a defensive midfielder who is good on the ball, covers ground quickly and is an intense presser. They are all attributes desired by Klopp, who will hope Caicedo joins a rejigged midfield which can spark a renewed bid for the title after his team finished outside the top four last season.

Klopp said signing Caicedo wasn’t a done deal for Liverpool.

“We are club that doesn’t have endless resources, we didn’t expect a couple of things happening in the summer, like Henderson and Fabinho (leaving), stuff like this,” he said. “We didn’t think about that before the summer, to be honest, and then it happened. … We will see (what happens with Caicedo).”

If the transfer goes through, Brighton will have received around 150 million pounds ($190 million) from Liverpool this summer for Mac Allister and Caicedo, continuing its policy of buying cheaply — using its enviable global scouting network — and selling for big fees.

“Let’s do it step by step,” Klopp said. “Let’s see what happens in the next hours or days.”

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