Premier League • England

Every central defender linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, including Everton star and €100m man

Liverpool linked centre-backs Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton) Piero Hincapie (Leverkusen) and Goncalo Inacio (Sporting)

Liverpool linked centre-backs Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton) Piero Hincapie (Leverkusen) and Goncalo Inacio (Sporting)

Liverpool have made signing a top-quality centre-back a priority for the upcoming transfer window and we’ve listed all the players they have their eye on. 

They are looking to bring in a long-term successor for Joel Matip, who is past his best at the age of 32 and has struggled with injuries this season.

21-year-old Jarrell Quansah has shown he has what it takes to play in the Premier League but Liverpool are still keen to bring in more competition for him.

The Reds have plenty of exciting defensive targets on their shortlist and we’ve listed every single one they’ve been linked with in this feature.

Piero Hincapie 

One of the stars of Xabi Alonso’s high-flying Bayer Leverkusen side, Liverpool reportedly sent scouts to run the rule over Hincapie recently while he was on international duty with Ecuador. 

The 22-year-old, now in his third season at the BayArena, has shone as a left-sided centre-back in Leverkusen’s back three and was a key figure in the recent 3-0 demolition of Bayern Munich, contributing four tackles, two interceptions and five clearances to shut out Harry Kane and co.

While there might be a slight adaptation required of Hincapie should Liverpool’s next boss decide to stick with the four-at-the-back system preferred by Klopp, his ability to play at centre-back or left-back would make him a particularly useful addition, providing an upgrade at the heart of defence and cover for Andrew Robertson.

Hincapie’s quality, versatility and future potential are reflected in his price tag, however, with Leverkusen believed to value the defender at around £50 million.

Goncalo Inacio

First linked with Liverpool last year, Inacio has cemented his status as one of Europe’s most promising defenders this season with his formidable performances for Sporting CP.

The 22-year-old centre-back was reportedly the subject of a £26 million bid from the Reds last month, but to acquire his services this summer Liverpool would likely have to double that offer, with the Portugal international’s contract containing a £52 million release clause.

Despite his tender years, Inacio has already racked up over 100 league appearances for Sporting. A commanding physical presence while also confident stepping out with the ball at his feet and launching attacks from deep, he has all the tools required of a modern centre-back.

Inacio has also added goals to his game recently, with six already this season between his club and international commitments.

Jean-Clair Todibo

Wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, Liverpool would face competition from their Premier League counterparts if they decide to make a move for Nice centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo.

It’s easy to see why Todibo is in such high demand, though. Ever since breaking through at Toulouse as a teenager, the France international has possessed the technical and physical gifts to excel in his position.

An early move to Barcelona came too soon and stunted his progression somewhat, but now, at 24, he has established himself as one of the best and most complete defenders in Ligue 1.

Excellent on the ball, athletic and versatile – able to also play at right-back or in midfield – Todibo ticks all the boxes. Previously valued at around £35 million, more recent reports claim Nice could demand as much as £50 million for their star centre-half.

Andreas Christensen 

Former Chelsea defender Christensen has emerged as a surprise summer target for Liverpool in their hunt for defensive reinforcements, with reports in Spain claiming the Reds are readying a £43 million bid for the former Chelsea man.

Christensen signed for Barcelona on a free transfer two years ago after his Stamford Bridge contract expired. And the Dane has impressed in his two campaigns with the Catalan giants, exuding a calmness on and off the ball and even slotting into a defensive midfield role at times this season.

At 27, he represents an experienced option among the reported Liverpool targets while also having years of his prime ahead of him. He would require no adaptation to the Premier League, too, owing to his decade with Chelsea.

And with Barcelona reportedly needing to sell players to fund their summer spending, he could be available. A shock candidate but, all things considered, one that makes a lot of sense.

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Leny Yoro

One of Liverpool’s younger targets but arguably one of the most exciting on this list, Lille centre-back Leny Yoro is considered to be one of the best prospects in Europe and is also being chased by Man Utd, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

The 18-year-old broke into the Lille team in 2022 and has gradually established himself as one of their most important players. Yoro has made 25 Ligue 1 appearances so far this season, scoring two goals and helping his team to 14 clean sheets.

Lille have reportedly slapped a huge £78 million price tag on Yoro, however, so Liverpool will have to cough up a huge transfer fee if they want to beat the competition to his signature this summer.

Leny Yoro 2023/23 Ligue 1 stats

Antonio Silva

Antonio Silva has a mammoth €100 million (approx. £85.5m) release clause in his contract with Benfica, and for good reason.

The 20-year-old centre-back already has over 70 senior appearances for Benfica under his belt and as well as being strong defensively, he has a real knack for scoring goals, finding the net seven times so far.

Silva is a full Portugal international, already has the quality to slot straight into the Liverpool starting XI and could form a solid partnership with Virgil van Dijk.

Scouts from both Liverpool and Man Utd have been keeping a close eye on Silva in recent weeks, so it’s possible that they could both make bids for him this summer.

Jarrad Branthwaite

Jarrad Branthwaite has arguably been Everton’s star player this season and reports suggest that Liverpool are considering a move for the talented 21-year-old.

Just one player has joined the Reds from the Blue half of Merseyside since the turn of the century, with midfielder Abel Xavier being the last to do it back in 2002.

Branthwaite has nailed down a spot in Everton’s starting XI this term after enjoying a successful loan spell with PSV Eindhoven last season.

He’s made 25 league appearances thus far, helping the Toffees to seven clean sheets in the process – giving them the best defensive record of any PL team outside the top four.

Branthwaite has also scored two goals, with his latest being a fine strike in a 1-1 draw with Brighton at the Amex.

Along with Liverpool, Man Utd and Tottenham have also been linked with a move for the Everton star, who is valued at approximately £80 million.

Jarrad Branthwaite 2023/24 stats

Lloyd Kelly

Bournemouth star Lloyd Kelly is out of contract at the end of the season and several top Premier League clubs are battling to sign him on a free transfer.

The 25-year-old centre-back is one of the Cherries’ most prized assets and has the ability to play as a left-back or centre-back, which would come in handy for the Reds.

Kelly is admired by the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd, Tottenham, Newcastle and West Ham.

Unless Bournemouth are able to tie the Englishman down to a new contract, he will be leaving the south coast club on a free this summer and Liverpool are considering a move.

Marc Guehi

Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi is one of the most in demand players in the Premier League at the moment, and for good reason.

The 23-year-old joined the Eagles from Chelsea in 2021 and has become one of their most important players, making over 100 appearances to date.

Guehi’s fine form has earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, which has only increased the level of interest in his signature.

It’s understood that Chelsea are interested in re-signing Guehi this summer but Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham are also keen on him. The Crystal Palace star is valued at approximately £60m.

Jonathan Tah

Tottenham have been the favourites to sign Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Jonathan Tah for some time but recent reports suggest that Liverpool are also keeping a close eye on him.

Tah, 28, has played a key role in Leverkusen’s success this season and the Reds could have a better chance of bringing him in if Alonso becomes their new manager.

The Germany international is considered to be one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and undoubtedly has the quality to shine in the Premier League. Now, Liverpool could compete with Spurs for his signature.

Tah has a £15.5m release clause in his contract, which makes him one of the best bargains available on the summer market.

Maxence Lacroix

Maxence Lacroix is one of the lesser-known names on this list, but has the quality and potential to play at the very highest level one day.

The 23-year-old Wolfsburg centre-back has demonstrated his quality in the Bundesliga over the past few years and is ready for the next challenge in his career.

Lacroix would be significantly cheaper than many of the names on this list, too, with a reported price tag of €30m (approx. £25m).

The defender has made 22 appearances this term, scoring two goals and helping his team to five clean sheets, and Liverpool’s scouts have been watching him closely.

Arthur Theate

Stade Rennais star Arthur Theate is another impressive young centre-back from Ligue 1 who would reportedly be open to joining a Premier League club this summer.

The 23-year-old signed for Rennes in 2022 and has made 71 appearances to date for the French side, scoring seven goals in the process.

Liverpool were linked with a move for Theate last summer and it’s thought that he still has admirers within the Reds’ hierarchy.

Like Lacroix, he would be significantly cheaper than others on this list, with an estimated valuation of £30m.

Willian Pacho

Willian Pacho has established himself as one of Eintracht Frankfurt’s most important players this season and his solid performances have caught the attention of multiple top sides.

Liverpool are reportedly among those chasing Pacho’s signature and plan to keep a close eye on him ahead of the summer window.

The Ecuador international has made 25 Bundesliga appearances so far this term, helping Frankfurt to six clean sheets in the process.

At the age of 22, Pacho is only expected to improve as he gains experience so could prove to be an excellent long-term addition for the Reds.

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