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Who is Diogo Leite, the £13.23 million Liverpool-linked centre-back?

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

Reports in The Guardian this week have linked highly-rated 19-year-old Porto centre-back Diogo Leite with a summer move to Anfield.

The signing of the Portuguese youth international would be a superb coup for Liverpool, as Leite offers an impressive array of defensive abilities for a teenager.

But who is the Porto youth team player, whose contract includes a 15 million (£13.23 million) euro release clause, and what will he offer the Reds?

Leite experienced his career breakthrough during the Under-17 European Championships in May 2016, in which the defender admirably led his country to the title while marshalling an airtight defence.

The Portuguese side did not concede a single goal in the group stage, quarterfinals, or semifinals. In a remarkable feat, Portugal kept five straight clean sheets in the tournament before finally conceding to Spain in the final.

Portugal went on to win on penalties, with Leite confidently stepping up and slotting a penalty into the bottom corner during the high-pressure shootout.

Throughout the Euros, the Porto defender stood out for his confident style of play. Seemingly never in a rush, Leite bosses the back four with a calm demeanour, snuffing out danger with intelligent clearances and commanding headers.

In addition, another prominent fixture in Leite’s style of play is his expansive passing range. The centre-back has a knack for coolly knocking the ball around the back, never resorting to hoofed long balls. And when Leite does go long, it is usually a measured, clipped through ball that finds a teammate on the wing.

These attributes make him the perfect defender for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, and it is clear to see why the Reds are the front-runners to win Leite’s signature.

With Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, and Ragnar Klavan all 26 years of age or older, it is clear that Liverpool need a long-term replacement at the centre of defence.

Diogo Leite is the perfect man to fill that gap and could be a superb centre-back partner for Joe Gomez in future seasons.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Liverpool

Liverpool round-up: Grujic bid rejected; interest in Karius; Brewster nears return

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool have rejected a bid for Marko Grujic

The transfer window may have closed in England but it remains open until Friday in Italy and reports from the Liverpool Echo say that the Reds have turned down an approach from Serie A side Torino for midfielder Marko Grujic. The deal was reportedly a season long loan with an option to buy worth 10 million euros (£9 million).

The Serbian was heavily involved in pre-season after impressing for Cardiff City on loan last season and was expected to return to Wales after helping them earn promotion but a move collapsed.

Besiktas are considering a move for Loris Karius

Turkish newspaper Aksam claim that Besiktas have emerged as candidates to sign German goalkeeper Loris Karius on loan to provide him with an Anfield escape having lost the number one shirt to Alisson Becker after his Champions League final nightmare in Kiev in May.

Jurgen Klopp’s plans for the goalkeeper remain unclear despite publicly giving him a vote of confidence and a loan deal may be an ideal solution. Much could depend on the Turkish team’s pursuit of other targets, including Arsenal‘s David Ospina.

Rhian Brewster is nearing a return to fitness

It was a major blow to Liverpool’s plans for young striker Rhian Brewster when he picked up a serious ankle ligament injury in January, but under 23s manager Neil Critchley has told Goal that he could return to light training as soon as next month after a summer of rehabilitation.

“I’m sure he’ll be doing a few people’s heads in down at Melwood, chomping at the bit and ready to return! He’ll be quite restless. He’s a young boy who loves playing football and wants to play football, so he’ll hugely frustrated at the moment.”

Liverpool under 23s manager Neil Critchley has backed his striker.

The 18-year-old was training alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to rebuild fitness after signing a new deal to commit himself to the Merseyside outfit despite interest from elsewhere.

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Two years after Jurgen Klopp phonecall Liverpool are not missing out on Ben Brereton

Liverpool wanted the young striker, but he is now struggling for football at Nottingham Forest.

Mathew Nash

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When Ben Brereton burst onto the scene at Nottingham Forest it was widely welcomed by Reds fans. The talented teenager had an excellent 2016-17 with Forest and, despite his struggles in front of goal last term, still had another productive season.

It led to plenty of reports of Premier League interest, including from Liverpool.

As reported by The Sun, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was reportedly looking into the signing of Brereton back in the winter of 2017.

The report claimed that after impressing Klopp in an FA Youth Cup game against Liverpool in 2016 the German called Forest academy chief Gary Brazil to ‘personally enquire’ about his services.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Liverpool were again linked with him that summer before the talented youngster signed a new contract at the City Ground.

But, fast forward 18 months and Liverpool fans will probably feel they are not missing out.

The striker can no longer find his way into the Forest matchday squad, after the arrivals of Lewis Grabban and Hilal El-Arbi Soudani this summer.

It has even led to Blackburn Rovers trying to sign him on the final day of the transfer window.

Of course, he is still young and has a bright future in the game. But Liverpool will surely feel he is perhaps not at the level needed to make it at Anfield after his recent struggles.

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Three reasons Joe Gomez can cement a regular starting-role at Liverpool

The Englishman impressed in the Reds’ opening fixture against West Ham.

Liam Thomas

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Joe Gomez
Photo: Getty Images

Multiple injuries to Liverpool‘s back line meant that 21-year-old Joe Gomez has started the season as Liverpool’s centre-back alongside the world’s most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk.

It has long been argued that the centre-back position is Gomez’ best and, on the opening day of the season against West Ham, Jurgen Klopp gave the nod to the youngster to start in his favoured role.

There is no better time than the present for Gomez to seize the opportunity that has come his way, showcase his talents and lay down the foundations to a potential lengthy partnership at the heart of Liverpool’s defence with Van Dijk.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

1. Seize the opportunity

Gomez has the perfect opportunity in front of him to cement his name into Jurgen Klopp’s plans, and he needs to seize this with some solid performances and clean sheets to match.

You only have to look back as far as last season to see a youngster in the Liverpool ranks take hold of an opportunity.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was given a chance to start in Klopp’s first XI after Nathaniel Clyne was injured during preseason, and remains Liverpool’s first choice right-back this campaign, despite Clyne’s return.

21-year-old Gomez now finds himself in the same position, with the Reds other centre back choices injured or unavailable.

2. Gomez’ performance against West Ham

Gomez and the Liverpool back line had a relatively quiet afternoon against West Ham. However, the youngster performed well when called upon and showed glimpses of a potentially perfect partnership with Virgil Van Dijk.

An attribute Gomez displayed during the game was his ability to play it out from the back – a trait that is extremely useful in Jurgen Klopp’s possession-based setup.

The centre-back had a 92% pass accuracy from the game.

This is something Liverpool’s other centre-back options have struggled to maintain during their time in the first XI, especially Dejan Lovren.

3. Gomez’ time at full-back gives him the edge

Gomez’ time playing full-back for the Reds last season gives him an edge over his counterparts and allows Jurgen Klopp’s defence to have a bit of versatility.

Lovren seems to struggle when he has to be brought out wide, and Gomez looks a lot more comfortable than the Croatian when he has to go into either channel of the pitch.

The 21-year-old also showed glimpses of his ability to get forward during Liverpool’s opening fixture, a trait he has picked up during his time at full-back and an extra weapon for Klopp to consider in his attacking arsenal.

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