Liverpool hopes rekindled as Barcelona line up Man Utd man as alternative to £45m Firpo

Liverpool have been given fresh hope they could still land Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo this summer after it was reported that Barcelona could instead target an out-of-favour Manchester United defender as a cut-price alternative.

Real Betis defender Junior had been suggested as a potential solution for Liverpool as they look for a new back-up for Andy Robertson, but his €50m release clause was a concern.

Instead, Barcelona have emerged as the leading contenders for his signature, with the LaLiga champions appearing to land something of a transfer coup by agreeing an initial €27m deal with the Betis.

However, ESPN now suggests even the reduced fee may be more than Barcelona are willing to spend – and Ernesto Valverde’s side will instead look to bring in Matteo Darmian from Manchester United, who could cost around €10m less.

The versatile Italian full-back has become something of a bit-part player at Old Trafford and was left out of their squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Kristiansund in Norway – with another of their unsettled stars, Romelu Lukaku, also being overlooked for the game as he closes on a switch to Italy.

Barcelona have also looked at Augsburg’s Philipp Max and Bayern Munich star David Alaba, but both would come at a significant cost, whilst Bayern have already highlighted their reluctance to discuss terms over Alaba.

And with Darmian looking both the most affordable and the most obtainable options for Barca, that could leave the door open for Liverpool to come back in for Firpo.

The player discussed his future over the weekend and admits links to Barcelona filled him with pride.

“It is true that I have heard the stories of me moving to Barcelona,” he told Mundo Deportivo.

“I take real pride in this, and to be linked with a club like FC Barcelona is a compliment. But at the moment I am focused on pre-season training with Betis.

“I am so grateful to the club, because they have given me everything.”

Whether Liverpool do make a swoop for Firpo remains to be seen, but manager Jurgen Klopp did admit last week Liverpool were still trying to be active in the transfer market this summer if the right player became available at the right price.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 08: Suso of AC Milan duels for the ball with Junior Firpo of Real Betis during the UEFA Europa League Group F match between Real Betis and AC Milan at Estadio Benito Villamarin on November 8, 2018 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

“We are still looking, but it will not be the (biggest) transfer window of LFC,” says Klopp. “It just will be a transfer window.

“We will see what we do, and if we haven’t done anything by the end it will be for different reasons.

“It’s about using this team. In the transfer window, you have to build a team that you think you want to go into the season with. But I have that team already.

“If we can bring somebody else in that makes it even better, we will see. But if not, this team is already there. And again we will have to find solutions at different moments.”


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