According to several reports, Liverpool have reached a pre-agreement with Benfica to sign Argentine midfield prodigy Enzo Fernandez next summer.
Liverpool’s need to reinforce their midfield cannot be understated. They have needed to refresh their midfield for some time now, but after dithering last summer, they ended up with Juventus outcast Arthur on a loan deal.
Their lack of midfield options, coupled with recurring injuries, have plagued Liverpool’s campaign. Jurgen Klopp’s men were widely expected to pick up where they left off last season after losing out on the title by a point, but they are currently sixth in the table.
Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Fabinho have the quality to improve the midfield performances of any team they join, but they have struggled to stay fit.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has barely featured, while Jordan Henderson and James Milner are ageing, hence the need for the club to bring in new midfielders.
However, there are only a handful of players that can be seamlessly integrated into Klopp’s gegenpressing system, which requires vibrant, quick players proficient at winning the ball back.
Liverpool have long been strongly linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund’s highly coveted midfielder Jude Bellingham.
While they are strong candidates to sign the young Englishman, they face competition from several European heavyweights, including Premier League rivals Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
Dortmund are not too keen on letting Bellingham leave and want him to renew his contract, but the 19-year-old looks destined to leave Signal Iduna Park next summer.
Interest in Bellingham has skyrocketed after his impressive performances for England in the World Cup. The youngster was an ever-present figure for the Three Lions in Qatar, with many considering him England’s best player in the tournament.
With that in mind, the Bundesliga giants have slapped a hefty £129 million price tag on Bellingham, but even that has not deterred the interested parties.
Liverpool have never really been a club that splashes heavily on players. Darwin Nunez’s deal that cost the club €100m plus bonuses was their first marquee acquisition since they paid around the same amount to sign Virgil van Dijk in 2018.
That said, Dortmund’s asking price for Bellingham may prove too much for the Reds to handle, especially amid reports of an impending sale. But there has already emerged a cheaper alternative in Fernandez.
He initially caught the eye with his performances for Benfica, with several European clubs monitoring his development in Portugal.
However, his performances for Argentina have further boosted his reputation as one of the brightest young midfielders in the world.
And if reports are to be believed, Liverpool have already made a proactive move to sign the 21-year-old next summer with a pre-agreement with Benfica already in place.
Fernandez did not start the opening two group games for La Albiceleste in Qatar, but his game-changing cameo in the 2-0 win over Mexico has seen him force his way into Lionel Scaloni’s squad.
He has been unplayable for Argentina since then. In addition to his goal and assist, Fernandez has won 62% of his ground duels and an incredible 75% of his aerial duels. His ball-winning ability and ball progression prowess have also made him a standout performer.
His performances appear even more impressive considering that he plays a relatively deeper role for his national team than for Benfica, where he has greater licence to drive forward.
The Benfica star will prove a shrewd acquisition for Liverpool, and whatever fee is required could prove to be a bargain over time as he fits Klopp’s system like a glove.
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