Liverpool have been handed a blow in their pursuit of Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie, according to reports

The Cote d’Ivoire international arrived in Bergamo in January of last year as an obvious but raw talent. He then spent a season on loan at Serie B side Cesena, before returning to Atlanta.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini has placed great faith in the 19-year-old this season, and it has more than paid off. Kessie scored four goals in his first five games this season, and has gone on to make 11 appearances in all competitions for Atlanta.

He is also already a full Ivorian international, having made 10 appearances for the Elephants. The Ivorian started his career as a defender, but has largely been utilised as a defensive midfielder, shielding the back four.

The teenager boasts incredible power and upper body strength for someone so young – and it is not uncommon to see opponents bounce off him in physical battles. He is fast, confident on the ball and is not afraid of breaking forward from midfield and making late runs into the box.

His playing style has already led to many calling him the “next Yaya Toure”, although comparisons like these are usually always off the mark.

According to the Mirror, Kessie has already been scouted by Arsenal in the past, with the North London club sending scouts to watch him on several occasions.

They quote his agent, George Atangana as saying :

“Arsenal have sent scouts to watch him twice.

“All the big clubs in Italy rate him and he’s got a lot of foreign interest as well.”

Atalanta's midfielder Franck Kessie of Ivory Coast scores a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs As Roma on November 20, 2016 in "Atleti Azzurri d'Italia" Stadium in Bergamo. / AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Atalanta’s midfielder Franck Kessie of Ivory Coast scores a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs As Roma on November 20, 2016 in “Atleti Azzurri d’Italia” Stadium in Bergamo. (MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Southampton were also said to be interested in securing the youngster’s signing, with manager Claude Puel said to be a fan. However, the strongest links have been the ones linking the 19-year old Ivorian to Liverpool and Napoli.

But, according to Calciomercato.com, Juventus are now firmly in the lead to land the highly rated youngster, and given his performances this season Liverpool will now have to also contend with the fact that his price would have increased significantly, and Atlanta will be unwilling to part with him for a paltry fee.

It appears that their hopes of signing him have taken a big hit, however, as when Juventus decide to sign a player from the Serie A, they are usually the ones who manage to fend off everyone else to do just that.

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