Exclusive: Liverpool plotting January swoop for Portuguese defender to complete two-year mission

Exclusive: Liverpool plotting January swoop for Portuguese defender to complete two-year mission

Goncalo Inacio is re-emerging as a January defender target for Liverpool  as Jurgen Klopp seeks a new defensive partner for Virgil van Dijk, but the Reds will be forced to pay up, TEAMtalk has learned. 

Liverpool are keen to add another option to their defence after a summer of rebuilding their squad. Key players left and a new midfield took priority leaving manager Jurgen Klopp in need of defensive reinforcements. 

The club hoped to add a centre-back in summer but were unable to bring in a quality option. The signings of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch took priority. 

One player who has remained on the radar is Sporting Lisbon centre-back Goncalo Inacio. The Reds have scouted and watched the defender for over two years. 

Sources state they have been present at multiple matches, watching him at both club and international level to assess if he is ready to join their Premier League charge. 

The 22-year-old was an option in summer and the club made contact with his agents. However Liverpool instead focused on the likes of Micky van de Ven who eventually moved to Tottenham

Klopp had requested a new partner for Virgil van Dijk and the club’s star centre-back even spoke with Van de Ven as they tried to convince him to make the switch to Anfield. However, Spurs moved faster however and closed the deal. 

Sources say that Inacio is now sharply in focus and the possibility of a January move for him is high. Sporting do not want to sell but may have their hands tied if his release clause is met. 

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Liverpool told £52m could seal deal 

Those close to the player say his £52million release clause will have to be triggered to sanction a sale as the Liga Portugal side battle to hold onto several key players who are attracting Premier League interest. 

The club’s other star centre-back Ousmane Diomande is coveted by the likes of Chelsea and bosses at Sporting are concerned they will lose two key players halfway through the campaign and in the middle of a competitive title race. 

This will force the full release clause to be paid by any suitors of Inacio with sources stating Liverpool are front of the queue for his signature. 

The Portuguese international signed a new deal in August that runs until 2027, with his release clause rising from £39million to £52million. 

Sources say that Inacio is extremely keen on a move to the English top flight but will continue to treat Sporting with respect and not force through a move or disrupt the club’s season. 

The defender is a product of the club’s academy and a supporter of Sporting. As such, he will be respectful in any potential deals. Inacio also wants to see the club receive the best fee, hence why he was happy to raise his release clause. 

A deal for Inacio may not be so straightforward. Premier League side West Ham have also been monitoring Inacio and were reportedly in attendance to keep an eye on the defender in Sporting Lisbon’s 2-1 defeat to Benfica earlier this month.

As a result, Sporting Lisbon are bracing themselves for significant interest in Inacio in the coming months.

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