Liverpool have secured the services of former Manchester United transfer target Cody Gakpo ahead of the January window – and Jurgen Klopp’s side are not stopping there.
Jurgen Klopp is pushing to make another marquee January signing by bringing Enzo Fernandez from Benfica to Liverpool, according to reports in Portugal.
Fernandez, 21, announced himself as one of the hottest midfield prospects in Europe by helping Argentina to World Cup glory. He was crowned Young Player of the Tournament and attracted a host of suitors in the process, with Argentine outlet TyC Sports claiming United were leading Liverpool and Real Madrid in the race for his services.
The Red Devils were also in pole position to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven only for the Dutch club to announce on Boxing Day they had reached a £45million deal with Liverpool. United’s interest in the forward forced Liverpool to accelerate their efforts – which could occur again in the hotly-contested pursuit of Fernandez.
Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims Liverpool, alongside their arch-rivals, are intensifying their contact with the youngster’s representatives with a view to getting a deal over the line. The report notes it appears increasingly likely that Fernandez is nearing the end of his time with the Lisbon giants.
Liverpool and United are said to have stepped up their advances ahead of the January transfer window, even though Benfica recently turned down a €100m (£88m) bid for their prized asset. This suggests club president Rui Costa is holding out for a suitor to meet the €120m (£106m) release clause in Fernandez’s contract, which runs until the summer of 2027.
The former River Plate prospect arrived back in the Portuguese capital on Tuesday after spending time with adoring fans in his hometown of San Martin in Argentina. Fernandez has insisted he leaves all transfer business to his agent and his entire focus is on maintaining Benfica’s place at the top of the Primeira Liga, with a trip to Braga up next on Friday.
Nonetheless, Europe’s heavyweights are circling after his assured performances on the grandest stage of them all in the Middle East. Although his role is that of a defensive midfielder, Fernandez scored a sublime goal to ensure a vital 2-0 victory over Mexico in the group stage of the World Cup.
Klopp and his United counterpart, Erik ten Hag, are on the lookout for midfield recruits and it is no surprise they have settled on the same player, given his quality and potential. This transfer duel will have added bite to it after Liverpool pipped the Red Devils to the signing of Gakpo.
Ten Hag reportedly made his fellow Dutchman his priority target to replace Cristiano Ronaldo in January. Gakpo’s decision to move to Liverpool was motivated partly by the opportunity to join forces with compatriot Virgil van Dijk and he is set to undergo a medical before the transfer is completed.