Euro Paper Talk: Liverpool upgrade takes shape as Klopp strategy inspires new £40m defender mission; Chelsea keep up contact with Serie A gem
Liverpool have been watching a promising Portuguese centre-back as a potential upgrade on one of their existing squad men, while Chelsea are judged to be one of the leading challengers for a Serie A star – all in Wednesday’s European transfer gossip.
KLOPP CONSIDERS LIVERPOOL MOVE FOR GONCALO INACIO
Liverpool scouts have been taking a close look at Sporting defender, Goncalo Inacio, according to reports.
Inacio is now in his third season with the Sporting first team, for whom he has amassed more than 100 appearances. Still only 21 years old, the left-footer could be ready to take the next step in his career.
It recently emerged that Inacio is on Liverpool’s shortlist as they consider defensive reinforcements. Their midfield has been their main area of concern this season, but the backline hasn’t escaped scrutiny.
And now, reports in the Spanish media have revealed that Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of Inacio.
It has been claimed that they sent scouts to watch the Portugal under-21 international in action for his club on Monday. The occasion in question was a 2-0 win for Sporting against Estoril.
Inacio came on as a substitute in the second half, coincidentally for former Liverpool defender, Sebastian Coates.
The youngster played his part in ensuring Sporting preserved their clean sheet. During his cameo, Inacio won all three of his aerial duels, made two clearances and interceptions each, successfully won the only tackle he attempted and was never dribbled past.
For context, Coates only won one aerial, made one clearance and no interceptions, nor any tackles. In other words, Inacio outclassed him in half the time.
Liverpool’s scouts may be wanting a bigger sample size from which to judge Inacio, who has previously started 19 league games for Sporting this season. But they will still have seen some encouraging signs.
The Spanish report has claimed that Inacio’s transfer value at present is €23million, which is just over £20m. However, Sporting will not be letting him go easily, since they have him under contract until 2026.
Upon closer inspection, €23m is Inacio’s value on Transfermarkt. In reality, Sporting’s asking price might be higher than that website’s estimation. They may even feel entitled to refer to his €45m (£40m) release clause.
Hence, some tough negotiations might be ahead. But Liverpool are preparing for some defensive changes, meaning they will have to firm up their plans.
Inacio could take place of Nat Phillips
For example, the same report confirms that Nat Phillips will finally be sold by Liverpool in the summer. The academy graduate simply needs to continue his career elsewhere to avoid wasting his chance as a professional, despite putting in some respectable displays in the past.
It is likely that Inacio will cost more than Phillips, whose own next destination is not yet clear. But that would be reasonable for Liverpool, since they would likely use the potential newcomer a lot more (especially if Joel Matip leaves as well).
Indeed, Inacio could develop into an influential player if he continues his current rate of progress. Previous reports have rated him highly enough to suggest he could be the long-term successor to Virgil van Dijk.
And the most recent claim reminds that Jurgen Klopp likes to mould young defenders. Therefore, Inacio could be the next potential arrival to benefit from his strategy.
For now, though, he would have to slowly earn his place at Liverpool. They have now watched him on multiple occasions, not just this week, so it seems their interest is concrete and they would have a plan for him in the long term.
Inacio could be the next player Liverpool pluck from the Portuguese top flight after the arrivals of Darwin Nunez from Benfica and Luis Diaz from Porto in 2022. But it doesn’t seem any kind of bid is too advanced yet, and they are merely at the stage of taking information.
CHELSEA AMONG MAIN SUITORS FOR AC MILAN ATTACKER
Chelsea are one of the leading contenders for Rafael Leao and are still in contact with the AC Milan forward’s agent. (Gazzetta Dello Sport)
West Ham summer signing Gianluca Scamacca is already considering his future at the club after splitting with his agent. (Calciomercato)
Real Madrid are monitoring how Bruno Guimaraes is getting on at Newcastle United. (Mundo Deportivo)
Leicester City have enquired about Inter midfielder, Roberto Gagliardini. (FC Inter News)
The Foxes are also monitoring Lecce’s Morten Hjulmand, who plays in a similar position. (Nicolo Schira)
Leeds United and Fulham are following young Paris Saint-Germain defender, El Chadaille Bitshiabu. (Jeunes Footeux)
Inter would consider appointing Jurgen Klopp to replace Simone Inzaghi, but only if he left Liverpool first. (La Stampa)
Nottingham Forest and Wolves are watching Espanyol defender, Cesar Montes. (La Gradad De Espana)
Liverpool flop Naby Keita could return to the Bundesliga with either RB Leipzig or Borussia Dortmund. (Bild)
Luis Enrique will not be taking the Brazil job, but could replace Graham Potter at Chelsea. (Diario Sport)
However, Atletico Madrid have already made a three-year contract offer to Enrique. (El Chiringuito)
AND THE REST
Roma are considering a move for Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu when he becomes a free agent. (SportItalia)
Benfica’s Antonio Silva has become the latest defensive target for Real Madrid. (Record)
Borussia Dortmund believe they nearly have a verbal agreement with Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder, Daichi Kamada. (Fabrizio Romano)
Frankfurt have also decided against renewing the contract of defender Almamy Toure, who will leave for free this summer. (Bild)
The governing body for Italian football is investigating a clash between Jose Mourinho and a fourth official who allegedly swore at him after the Roma head coach was sent off. (Gazzetta Dello Sport)
Juventus may release Juan Cuadrado in the summer, even though the former Chelsea wide man is willing to stay. (Gianluca Di Marzio)
Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels is considering whether to renew his contract, leave or retire. (Bild)
Ajax are keen to renew the contract of veteran goalkeeper, Remko Pasveer. (Voetbal International)
Blackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl Tomasson has become the favourite to replace Arne Slot at Feyenoord in the summer. (1908.nl)
Bologna are close to reaching an agreement to sign Max Johnson from Motherwell. (Corriere Dello Sport)