Liverpool transfer news: Atletico Madrid enter race for Reds target Bilal El Khannouss

Cameron Smith
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool
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Liverpool’s hopes of signing Bilal El Khannouss have taken a hit following news that Atletico Madrid want to sign the Moroccan as a long-term replacement for club legend Koke.

El Khannouss, 19, is regarded as one of Morocco’s hottest young prospects and he is currently playing for his country at the Africa Cup of Nations.

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The attacking midfielder came through Anderlecht’s academy, before joining Genk as a 15-year-old in 2019.

He is also eligible to represent Belgium at international level, but El Khannouss decided to play for Morocco, despite playing for the country of his birth at U15, U16, U17 and U18 level. He has six senior caps for the African nation.

The teenager has scored three goals and provided five assists in 34 games for Gent so far this season and his form has attracted interest from across Europe.

In November, Liverpool were linked with a move for the Genk star, as per Corriere dello Sport (via TEAMtalk), but interest has seemingly waned over the past two months.

The Reds did sign four central midfielders during the most recent summer transfer window, including Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch, both of whom are more attacking midfielders.

Atletico Madrid to sign Bilal El Khannouss?

Atletico Madrid now appear to be the favourites to sign El Khannouss as they look to add reinforcements in January.

According to Spanish outlet Marca, Atleti’s sporting director Anrea Berta has identified El Khannouss as someone who is perfectly-suited to succeed Koke.

The Spaniard remains one of Diego Simeone’s favourites, but he is now 32 years old and may need an able back-up in order to ease his workload. Koke has played 16 times in La Liga so far this season, providing two assists.

As for Atletico Madrid themselves, they are currently fifth in the Spanish top flight table, having picked up 38 points from their opening 19 matches. They are 13 points behind league leaders Real Madrid.

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