Liverpool have reportedly opened talks with Portuguese giants Benfica over the possibility of signing highly-rated defender Francisco Reis Ferreira.
As per a report from Portuguese publication Record, which was carried by Mirror, Premier League title challengers Liverpool have established contact with Portuguese outfit Benfica as they explore the possibility of signing 21-year-old Francisco Reis Ferreira in the summer window.
Ferreira, or Ferro as he is commonly referred to as, is a product of the Benfica youth academy and made his first-team debut only last month, in a 2-1 cup win over rivals Sporting Lisbon and has been an ever-present in Bruno Lage’s side ever since.
Post his debut, the defender has missed out of the starting XI just once, which was due to suspension. Till date, Ferro has ten appearances for the Benfica senior outfit, in which he has scored three goals.
Ferro is held in very high regard at Benfica, having risen through the academy to become a mainstay in the first-team in just over a month after his senior debut. And given his great potential, the report claims that there has been rising interest in the 21-year-old across Europe, with Liverpool being one of those suitors.
Liverpool’s interest in the Portuguese centre-back is not new. As per the report, the Merseyside outfit have been monitoring Ferro for over a year now and had enquired Benfica about the possibility of signing him on loan with an option to make the deal permanent back in 2017. However, the Portuguese heavyweights had rebuffed Liverpool’s advances back then.
Liverpool, though, continue to maintain an interest in the 21-year-old starlet and have once again opened negotiations with Benfica in order to enquire about his availability, as per the report from Record, only to receive a negative response.
Liverpool’s defence had been a weak-link for a number of years, but the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January last year has transformed them into one of the best defensive units in England. Along with the towering Dutchman, Joe Gomez has shone, but has missed a good chunk of the ongoing term with injury.
Concerns remain over Dejan Lovren, however, considering his injury-riddled past and his error-prone nature, while Joel Matip too, has cut an inconsistent figure at times. And, this is why Liverpool could be pursuing a new centre-half, with Ferro on their radar, while Diego Llorente has also been linked recently.
However, if Liverpool want to sign Ferro from Benfica, they will have to battle Premier League rivals Manchester City as well as Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund, both of whom are reportedly interested in the 21-year-old.
Moreover, Ferro signed a new contract with Benfica last month, extending his stay at the club till 2023. As per the report, the contract contains a whopping €100 million release clause, which Liverpool will have to meet in order to force Benfica into a sale.
This would make Ferro the world’s most expensive defender, breaking the current world-record fee of £75 million which Liverpool had shelled out for Van Dijk. It remains to be seen if the Reds continue with their pursuit of the Portuguese starlet or seek cheaper alternatives to strengthen their defence in the summer.