Premier League • England

Liverpool battle Man City for Italy’s ‘most coveted defender’, as Atalanta forced to set price tag amid growing race

Atalanta defender Giorgio Scalvini

Liverpool and Manchester City are joined by several of Europe’s big hitters in the chase for Italy’s ‘most coveted defender’, according to a report.

Liverpool’s priority right now is a new midfielder, following injuries to several of Jurgen Klopp’s options in the position. Plus, Jordan Henderson and Thiago are both the wrong side of 30, so Liverpool could do with a younger option arriving at Anfield to revamp the midfield.

However, Liverpool could probably do with adding to their defence once the midfield is sorted. Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are both 31 and Klopp will not be able to rely on them forever.

Of course, Ibrahima Konate is in the squad. He will likely step up and replace Van Dijk when the Dutchman hangs up his boots, or decides to depart Liverpool.

But Matip’s successor is less certain. Joe Gomez is in the squad, although his injury record will probably prevent him from becoming a regular starter for the Reds.

Nat Phillips is on Liverpool’s books too. But club chiefs are keen to either loan him out or sell him as he doesn’t have the quality to get into Liverpool’s starting eleven.

It seems Liverpool could go to Italy when looking for Matip’s replacement at centre-half. According to Italian source CalcioMercato, Liverpool are involved in the race to sign Atalanta wonderkid Giorgio Scalvini.

The 18-year-old spent time in Brescia’s academy before joining Atalanta’s youth setup in 2015. He made his Atalanta debut in October 2021 and has since made big waves in Italy.

Liverpool, Man City want Atalanta wonderkid

Scalvini, who generally plays as a centre-back but can also operate as a defensive midfielder, has played 11 times in Serie A this campaign. And he has looked very comfortable competing at senior level, resulting in interest from some of Europe’s most elite teams.

Liverpool are battling Manchester City for his services, although Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Inter Milan all want to sign him too.

The report labels Scalvini as ‘the most coveted defender’ in Italy right now. He is being tipped to become as influential as Giorgio Chiellini was for the Italy national side.

Inter appear to be leading the pursuit for Scalvini as things stand. But given Liverpool’s need for a new defensive addition, they could ruin Inter’s plans and sign the teenager first.

Atalanta would love to keep hold of their academy product. But they know how hard it will be when so many huge sides are after him.

Giorgio Scalvini will only move next summer

Atalanta are refusing to budge when it comes to a January sale. They view Scalvini as an important player for the rest of the campaign and will reject all winter offers for him.

However, things will change when the summer transfer window opens. Atalanta have been forced to tell Scalvini’s potential suitors they will accept bids worth €30million (currently £25.8m) in the summer.

It would be a risk if Liverpool went to replace Van Dijk or Matip with Scalvini immediately. His lack of senior experience would be a major issue.

But with Van Dijk and Matip likely to be play for three or four more years, Scalvini would have time to develop into a high-quality centre-back. Plus, Konate and Phillips are in Klopp’s squad, so not too much pressure would fall on the youngster’s shoulders.

£25.8m may be a lot to spend on an 18-year-old defender. But Scalvini has shown he has the potential to become a household name. So it would be a mistake if Liverpool and City didn’t push ahead with their interest in him.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Transfer Gossip reveals a Liverpool-linked midfielder has rejected the offer of a new contract at his current club.