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Liverpool reportedly want Portugal midfielder that Xabi Alonso raved about in 2016

Liverpool have reportedly identified Lille midfielder Renato Sanches as the number one target to replace Gini Wijnaldum should the Dutch star leave Anfield next summer – and Xabi Alonso’s comments from 2016 will certainly excite supporters.

Wijnaldum is in the final year of his contract and could sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs from January 1 – if his current deal is not extended. Liverpool are certainly leaving it very late if he does indeed put pen to paper at Anfield.

It is only natural, then, that Liverpool begin to draw up replacements. French site Le10Sport claim 23-year-old Sanches has emerged as the club’s number one replacement, after rejuvenating his career at Ligue 1 outfit Lille of late.

The 22-time Portugal international played alongside Liverpool icon Alonso at Bayern Munich, and the Spaniard was once quoted by FourFourTwo in 2016 as delivering an exciting verdict on Sanches. Now, it will excite Reds fans, with Sanches linked.

“He will be a very important player. He has a lot of energy, he is very strong [physically] and he is hungry. Hungry to win every title,” Alonso said on Sanches in 2016. “His age doesn’t matter. He is 19 [in 2016], but he is ready – he is a top player already.”

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TBR’s view – Sanches would be a stunning signing for Liverpool

The one thing he lacks compared to Wijnaldum is the ability to score goals on a regular basis. Technically and physically, he is similar to the Liverpool star – the same lung-busting stamina and array of passing that makes him ideal for the engine room.

But Wijnaldum pops up with important goals. A brace in the Champions League semi-final for example. In 40 appearances for Lille, Sanches only has five goals and that is something that would need to change. But certainly, he has time on his side.

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