The Reds are apparently looking for center backs to replace Joel Matip, and they have been watching Benfica matches to get a better look at António Silva.
One thing is Jürgen Klopp’s top objective for the upcoming summer transfer market. Above all things, the German manager has to improve Liverpool’s midfield by replacing players who have been there for the most of his term with new faces.
The Reds are interested in Jude Bellingham, and a number of other players have also been mentioned, but in addition to mending his engine room, Klopp also has a void that is going unfilled that needs to be filled. When his contract expires at the end of the upcoming season, Joel Matip appears poised to depart Anfield.
Liverpool will therefore likely need to look into center-back options in the near future, which could account for reports that scouts have just been dispatched to Portugal. The Reds had representatives present to observe António Silva and Florentino Luis of Benfica upset Famalicao last week, according to 90min.
The former is a center-back who is expected to achieve great things as he continues to develop as a young prospect with a very high potential, whilst the latter is a midfielder.
Silva is a contemporary defender who is 1.87m tall, making him the same height as Jordan Henderson at just 19 years old. When in possession of the ball, he plays with apparent ease and poise and exhibits a wide passing range when required to make more direct deliveries up the field.
Although it’s unclear whether the Portuguese international has the necessary speed to occupy Klopp’s high defensive line and daring offside trap, he has plenty of time to keep improving. Although his unexpected rise to stardom as an attractive young actress, he is still far from being the full product.
Since Jan Vertonghen left for Anderlecht in the summer, Silva has taken Vertonghen’s place as a starter for Benfica this season. When the Uruguayan striker excelled at the Estadio do Luz previous season, Darwin Nez was signed by Liverpool from Benfica during that same transfer window.
Enzo Fernández is possibly another example of how the Portuguese juggernauts find jewels in the transfer market. Three Portuguese news outlets claimed that he was expected to move to Anfield throughout the winter, but Chelsea was able to sign him in the last hours of the transfer window for an outrageous sum.
Silva might very well end up on Merseyside in the near future given that Liverpool are aware of Nez and Fernández, which implies they are well aware of Silva and his potential. Julian Ward also has connections to Portugal as he once worked for their football association.
Although Ward will inevitably step down from his position as Liverpool’s sporting director this summer, he might resolve Liverpool’s center-back quandary as a parting present. Nez was regarded as Sadio Mané’s replacement, and eventually Silva might decide to do the same with Matip.
Liverpool may soon have to begin another ‘Jude Bellingham-style’ transfer battle with Man City
According to reports, Liverpool has started laying the groundwork for a deal to capture one of Europe’s most promising young players, but Man City and Chelsea will challenge the Reds.
Jude Bellingham, a midfielder for Borussia Dortmund, will be the subject of a historic contract dispute this summer, with Liverpool at the core of it.
In their pursuit of the Englishman, the Reds appear poised to face competition from Manchester City, Real Madrid, and perhaps even Manchester United (via The Athletic).
He has a chance to surpass Ronald Koeman as the most expensive player in Premier League history and the third-most expensive player overall in football history because Dortmund is asking for almost $159 million (£134 million/€150 million).
Even if there are signs that Liverpool may find it difficult to finance that kind of transaction, particularly without access to the Champions League, the club appears to be exploring making another high-profile acquisition.
Fabrizio Romano claims that the organization ‘explored’ the ‘conditions’ of a January transfer for RB Leipzig defender Joko Gvardiol.
It is one of the teams in a “open race” to recruit the Croatian, with Chelsea still interested in signing him after missing out last summer and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola being mentioned as a “huge fan” of the player.
Being “one of the most desired players in Europe,” Gvardiol is sure to pique the curiosity of other Champions League powerhouses as well.
In some ways, he might be Bellingham’s defensive counterpart.
With a $118 million (£98 million/€110 million) release clause set to go into effect in 2024, this generational talent—who is certainly the best young player in his position—looks likely to earn a nine-figure fee despite being a few years older.
Bellingham at Anfield has an obvious need, and there is now a vacancy; yet, Gvardiol would feel more like a luxury. Their backline is already led by a world-beating combo between Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté.
But, it doesn’t appear that Gvardiol is required for the other teams that Romano mentions as being interested either.
Guardiola has access to center-backs worth $211 million (£178 million/€200 million), including Rben Dias, a former player of the year, and Chelsea has already bought two promising young players in Wesley Fofana and Benoit Badiashile.
Yet all three teams are aware that Gvardiol is unique and that, by signing him, they may fix the focal point of their defenses for the better part of a decade.
In fact, we’ve already claimed that Konaté and Gvardiol might eventually constitute the world’s top center-back pairing.
Yet if Liverpool manages to get its top target in Bellingham, it will likely not be able to finance the World Cup star this summer.
It might also be reluctant to hold off until Gvardiol’s release clause kicks in in 2024. While Joe Gomez hasn’t impressed this season, Joel Matip, who is approaching the end of his contract, has shown symptoms of deterioration. So, it makes sense for the Reds to add players over the summer.
In that regard, Gvardiol might be the ideal player at the incorrect time—possibly even the right player.