Liverpool have joined the race to sign Sporting CP midfielder Manuel Ugarte, according to reports in Portugal.
Ugarte is already on the radars of Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United. However, an update from O Jogo has revealed that Liverpool are now in contention to sign him as well.
Although Sporting are seeking a contract extension for Ugarte, they currently risk losing him for €60m (£53.3m), which is the value of his release clause.
If the Lisbon outfit can renew his deal beyond its current expiry date of 2026, they could raise his exit clause. For the time being, though, clubs like Liverpool have an ideal opportunity to sign him.
It is no secret that Liverpool need to strengthen their midfield in the upcoming transfer window. By the end of the season, they will be ready to release Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arthur Melo and James Milner – who has just been linked with Brighton or Burnley.
New energy is required in Liverpool’s midfield, where several types of target are being linked with an incoming transfer. In addition to more creative talents, they could be looking for a combative option like Ugarte.
The defensive midfielder has been a Sporting player since 2021 and has developed significantly during that time. He has made 81 appearances for the club, only scoring once, which indicates the type of midfielder he is.
Ugarte could become a contender to take over from Fabinho at holding midfield in Liverpool’s system. The Brazil international has performed below his usual standards this season, after all.
In contrast, Ugarte has been more consistent across 43 appearances for Sporting. He featured against Tottenham in the Champions League and Arsenal in the Europa League earlier this season, which has prompted links with both.
Manuel Ugarte attracts Premier League interest
Indeed, Tottenham seem to be serious contenders judging from O Jogo‘s most recent information as well. They are currently seeking cover for Ugarte’s Uruguayan compatriot Rodrigo Bentancur because of his injury.
Newcastle have also established themselves in the hunt for Ugarte, according to the Portuguese outlet.
But although both of those sides are currently above Liverpool in the Premier League table – with Newcastle on course for Champions League qualification – a move to Merseyside may be a ‘dream’ for Ugarte, the report claims, because of the pedigree and history of the club.
Furthermore, the South American star would be able to link up with his international colleague, Darwin Nunez.
For the time being, Ugarte will be waiting to see if Liverpool make a bid. At the very least, they have ‘initiated initial contacts’, according to the report.
Whether they are in touch with Ugarte’s representatives or his current club isn’t entirely clear at this moment in time. But work has begun on their pursuit.
Elsewhere, Record reports that Leeds United are keeping tabs on Ugarte’s progress too. However, their position closer to the relegation zone might make them a less attractive destination, in theory.