Steve Nicol: This is the player who will replace Christian Benteke at Liverpool in the summer
By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Steve Nicol has predicted that Michy Batshuayi will replace Christian Benteke in the Liverpool striker ranks this summer.
Marseille striker Batshuayi has been targeted by a number of Premier League clubs on the back of a fine campaign in the French League.
The 22-year-old has scored 20 goals and supplied 10 assists in 46 matches in all competitions this season, including 15 goals and nine assists from 33 Ligue 1 encounters.
Liverpool legend Nicol is convinced that Batshuayi, who is rated in the £20million bracket, could join the growing ranks of Belgium internationals in the Premier League next season by replacing one of his countrymen.
Benteke has had a disappointing debut season at Anfield following his £32.5million move from Aston Villa last summer and there is a growing expectation that he could leave the club after just one year, with West Ham among the clubs who have expressed an interest.
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Tottenham have also been strongly linked with a move for Batshuayi as they look to boost a forward line heavily reliant upon Harry Kane.
“He’s young, scoring goals in Ligue 1 – which doesn’t always translate into the Premier League,” former defender Nicol told ESPN of Batshuayi. “He’s an up and coming player, he’s an international, he’s only 22, he’s got ability, and he scores goals.
“I think there’s a good possibility he goes to Liverpool over Spurs. I think there’s a good chance this kid goes to Liverpool as one Belgian will go out in Benteke, and another will come in, in Batshuayi.”
Benteke has scored eight goals for Liverpool this season, including seven in the Premier League, but has not started in the main domestic competition since early January.
He has been out for the last month with a knee injury but manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday he is set to return to full training within days.
French sports daily L’Equipe reported on Sunday that Spurs are closely monitoring Batshuayi along with Alexandre Lacazette and Samuel Umtiti.
In other Liverpool transfer news, West Brom are said to be closely monitoring an attacker at the club.