Premier League • England

Brazilian transfer delight for Klopp as Sao Paulo clear Liverpool to immediately sign long-term Van Dijk successor

Defender Lucas Beraldo (São Paulo) during the match between Sport X São Paulo, valid for the first match of the round of 16 of the 2023 Brazil Men's Football Cup, played at the Adelmar da Costa Carvalho Stadium, known as Ilha do Retiro Stadium, in Recife

Lucas Beraldo of Sao Paulo is wanted by Liverpool

Liverpool have been told by Sao Paulo general manager Rui Costa that they are “willing to negotiate” with the Reds if they follow up their interest in a deal for Lucas Beraldo.

The Merseysiders spent the summer window rebuilding their midfield after the unexpected departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho took the number of departures from their engine room to six . And with four new faces coming in to the combined tune of £145.2m at Liverpool, boss Jurgen Klopp was left with no room, and no time, to negotiate for a new defender.

Indeed, signing a new centre-half had initially been close to the top of his summer wishlist. Joel Matip is now in the final year of his contract after a largely successful, if not somewhat injury-hit, eight-season spell at Anfield.

Replacing Matip was always part of Klopp’s summer vision until the upgrading of his midfield became a much more pressing matter.

But now that is sorted, there is an acceptance that Klopp will turn his focus very much back towards landing a new defender. To that end, the Reds have been strongly linked with Goncalo Inacio of Sporting Lisbon, who as a left-sided centre-half operating at the highest level represents something of a rare breed.

Any deal for the Portugal international will set Liverpool back quite the wedge with Sporting CP demanding what would prove the fifth largest deal in the Merseysiders’ history.

Under that plan, Liverpool would potentially look to sign Inacio and switch Virgil van Dijk – who most frequently operates as the left-sided centre-half, across to the right-sided player of a defensive pairing.

However, it’s not just a long-term replacement for Matip that Liverpool are in the market for.

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Liverpool get green light to sign Lucas Beraldo

Back in October of this year it was reported that Liverpool scouts were on the trail of rising Sao Paulo defender Beraldo, whom Reds scouts had earmarked as a potential successor to Van Dijk.

While the Dutchman is still a vital member of their side, it was felt that the 20-year-old already boasted similar attributes and had the potential to become one of the best around.

To that end, it was claimed Liverpool were looking at Beraldo with a view to being Van Dijk’s long-term heir in heart of their rearguard.

Since then, Beraldo has been linked with moves to Manchester City and Tottenham, with Sao Paulo reportedly placing a minimum €30m (£25.7m) fee on his head.

But with the player not considered an immediate priority, Liverpool seemingly have put that interest on the backburner.

However, Sao Paulo general manager Rui Costa has now informed Liverpool – as well as suitors of the club’s other prized assets, Rodrigo Nestor, 23, and Pablo Maia, 21 – that they are willing to negotiate his sale.

“They are boys with very good minds, who know that the moment will come [to leave]. We’ll always talk to the agent and the player,” he told Globoesporte, when asked about the possibility of their sales.

“We ended up renewing Beraldo’s contract until 2027. We will negotiate with each of them if the offer is good for everyone. But I have never faced pressure from these boys. Quite the opposite.”

Beraldo has the attributes to shine at Liverpool

Although still only 20, Beraldo has caught the eye with some assured displays in the heart of defence. Standing at 6ft 1, he made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions this season, leading his club to what looks like an 11th-placed finish with one round of the Brazilian Serie A to go.

Capped twice by Brazil’s Under-20s, Beraldo is regarded as one of his country’s top upcoming centre-halves  – and another centre-half who operates with his left foot.

We reported two months back that Liverpool were on his trail, though Fabrizio Romano has since played that down, suggesting that the Brazilian wasn’t a priority.

“Lucas Beraldo – there has been talk of Liverpool being interested in signing Brazilian youngster Lucas Beraldo from Sao Paulo. However, I’m not hearing anything – not aware of that or of any negotiations for him at this stage,” Romano said.

“Liverpool are always linked with many players but there’s nothing concrete so far. He’s very good player, a talented young centre-back. I like him, but I think he probably needs one more step before joining a super top club like Liverpool.”

To that end, it probably looks like a case of one of either Inacio or Beraldo.

But given Sao Paulo’s willingness to negotiate, it may be Liverpool feel they can nab themselves a bargain by shopping in Brazil, rather than Portugal.

Liverpool, however, will not be the only side alerted by Sao Paulo’s stance to green light a sale, with Wolves having seen a summer bid rebuffed for his services.

It’s also reported that Bayern Munich and Lyon have also sent scouts to check his progress and it may be that they too decide to pursue a more concrete interest.

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