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Who is this 21-year-old defender with £85m release linked with Liverpool? Here is all you need to know

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Liverpool Opinion: Benfica starlet linked with a world-record move to Anfield

According to the Metro, Liverpool have opened negotiations with Benfica over a potential world-record transfer move for 21-year-old centre-back Francisco Reis Ferreira in the summer, with Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund also interested in the Portuguese youth international.

Ferreira made his senior first-team debut last month and has established himself as a mainstay in Bruno Lage’s side, catching the eyes of several top clubs across Europe with his consistently impressive performances at the back.

The Record claims that Liverpool have been monitoring Ferreira for quite a while and the Reds had made a move to take the youngster on loan with an option to buy him permanently for £10million back in 2017, only to see their offer turned down by Benfica.

However, Liverpool will have to shatter their own club-record fee of £75 million which they paid for Virgil van Dijk if the Reds want to sign Ferreira in the summer, with the player recently putting pen to paper on a new contract with a mammoth release clause of £85 million.

With some of the elite clubs across Europe lining up a big-money move for the youngster, let us take a closer look at one of Benfica’s most highly-rated prospects- Francisco Reis Ferreira.

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Background

Born in the city of Oliveira de Azeméis, Porto, Portugal, Ferreira joined the Benfica youth system in 2011 and was promoted to the reserve team in the 2015-16 season.

After his impressive displays for the reserve team, Ferreira was promoted to Benfica’s first team in February 2019 and he made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 victory over Sporting CP in the semi-finals of the Taca de Portugal. Ferreira scored his first goal in his first start for Benfica, netting the sixth in a 10-0 drubbing of Nacional in the Primeira Liga.

The 21-year-old has been able to replicate his amazing displays in the Europa League as well, scoring in victories over Galatasaray in the Round of 32 followed by the winner against Dynamo Zagreb in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie.

Ferreira has won a total of 51 caps for Portugal at all youth levels, including 8 at the U21 level.

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Style of Play

Standing at 6ft. 4 inches with a towering frame, Ferreira ia very much a physically dominating centre-half who excels with his aerial ability. He has a good jump and gets off the ground quickly to beat his offensive counterparts to the aerial balls inside the box.

Despite being tall and strong, Ferreira is very sharp and agile for a centre-back of his stature. He has shown amazing game-reading ability, both in the air and off the ground, which allows him to cut out attacks effortlessly. Truth be told, Ferreira hasn’t looked like a 21-year-old rookie playing in his first season at the senior level, with his high levels of awareness and astute positioning at the back making him look like an impenetrable wall at the heart of the defence.

Ferreira has also impressed with his decision-making and composure, knowing exactly when to slide in, whilst preferring to stay on his feet and intercept on other occasions. To add to that, the Portuguese starlet is blessed with exceptional ball-playing qualities, calm in possession and adept at playing the ball out from the back with his range of passing. He often tends to switch the play with his pinpoint long-passing, which is certainly another valuable asset in his CV.

The 21-year-old averages 57.2 passes per game with an accuracy percentage of 88.5, including 5.2 successful long balls, 1.8 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 3.8 clearances per game in the Liga NOS this term, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a central defender.

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What does the future hold?

Ferreira has already shown strong signs of excellence and is currently enjoying a wonderful breakout season in the Primeira Liga. However, he is still very much inexperienced at the highest level and a move to the Premier League would be a massive jump for him both in terms of quality and intensity.

£85 million might be a bit too much for Liverpool to splash on a relatively unproven talent but Jurgen Klopp has definitely seen something in the player which has prompted the Reds to open negotiations. If the move does eventually materialise for Ferreira, he will have to compete with the likes of established players like Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip.

Given that neither Matip nor Lovren has looked particularly solid during their time at Anfield, Liverpool might just consider making a move for Ferreira to increase competition for places alongside van Dijk at the heart of the defence.

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The 21-year-old definitely has the potential to make the grade at Liverpool and it shouldn’t be surprising to see him don the famous red jersey for years to come if the Merseyside giants manage to land him in the summer.

Derby County

Leeds plotting an ambitious double swoop on these two Liverpool starlets would be a massive statement of intent

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Leeds United Opinion: Whites should sign Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent in the summer

According to the Daily Record, Leeds United are plotting a double raid on Premier League giants Liverpool in the summer for Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson, with manager Marcelo Bielsa looking to build a squad capable of thriving in the Premier League.

Both Kent and Wilson have enjoyed a wonderful run this season at Steven Gerrard’s Rangers and Frank Lampard’s Derby County respectively and Bielsa believes they are the sort of players who can take the club to a new level. (h/t Daily Record)

Kent has been a livewire down the left-hand side of the pitch at Ibrox and has impressed with 6 goals and 10 assists from 36 appearances for the Gers in all competitions.

The Daily Record claims that Gerrard is planning to make a personal plea to Jurgen Klopp in a bid to keep Kent at Rangers beyond the end of the season, though the Gers are likely to be priced out of a move if Liverpool put him up for sale.

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Wilson, on the other hand, has really come of age at Pride Park this season and has been a key player for Lampard down the right of his preferred 4-3-3 formation. The youngster scored 7 goals on loan at Hull City last season and he has bettered those numbers at Derby this time around, contributing with 12 goals from a wide position on the right.

Meanwhile, Leeds United had a major slip-up in the race for automatic promotion as the Whites suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic at home on Friday. Bielsa’s side sat second in the standings prior to the game but they were leapfrogged by Sheffield United, who won 2-0 against Nottingham Forest.

Leeds have put themselves on the verge of promotion with a wonderful run this season and they just cannot afford to let themselves down in the dying stages of the campaign. The Whites should be looking to win each of their remaining 3 games in the Championship to secure automatic promotion for the first time in 15 years.

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Now, should Leeds make it back to the Premier League, they would need to spend a hefty amount to bring in some quality players to survive in the top flight.

If Leeds manage to secure promotion, Bielsa is likely to get a hefty amount to spend in the summer and the acquisition of two immensely-talented youngsters in the form of Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent would be a huge coup for the Whites.

Both the players are aged 22 and they have already shown strong signs of excellence, which might be enough evidence that they are capable of making the step up to the Premier League.

Kent has flourished as a right-footed inverted winger operating down the left on loan at Ibrox this season, while left-footed creative ace Wilson has been a hugely influential figure playing out wide on the right at Pride Park. Both are versatile players with good goalscoring pedigree who are capable of playing on either flank and through the centre as a supporting striker.

However, a closer analysis of both the players reveals that Kent is predominantly a winger who relies on his pace, low centre-of-gravity, dribbling and crossing, while Wilson is a more dynamic and elegant attacker who has the creativity and the vision to unleash delightful passes as well.

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Wilson and Kent would be an upgrade on the likes of Jack Harrison and Tyler Roberts, while also increasing competition for places and adding to the depth in the wide attacking options at Elland Road.

Pablo Hernandez has been a key figure under Marcelo Bielsa but the 33-year-old might find it tough to adapt to the physical and highly-competitive nature of the Premier League, as he reaches the twilight of his career.

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With their ability to create chances in the final third, Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent might prove to be the perfect feeder for Kemar Roofe up front, and that said, the Whites should not hesitate to strike a deal for the young duo.

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Liverpool

Liverpool beating Man City to sign this £45m-rated attacker would be a shrewd move by Klopp and here’s why

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Liverpool Opinion: Reds should beat City to sign Everton Soares

According to the Calciomercato, Liverpool are interested in signing a Brazilian attacker who shares his name with their bitter Merseyside rivals, with Gremio winger Everton Soares reportedly on manager Jurgen Klopp’s wishlist for the summer.

The Sun claimed last week that Man City were leading the race for the 23-year-old Brazilian international, with Gremio quoting a price of £45 million to part ways with their star man.

Soares enjoyed a wonderful run in the Brazilian league last year and impressed with his scintillating performances down the left-wing, scoring 10 goals and assisting a further 3 from 27 appearances.

Currently in his sixth year at Gremio, Soares has established himself as one of the emerging stars in Brazilian football and his consistent performances have earned him 4 caps for his nation so far at the senior international level.

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The 23-year-old has already tasted plenty of silverware in South America, helping Gremio to victories at the 2016 Copa do Brasil, 2017 Copa Libertadores and 2018 Recopa Sudamericana.

The diminutive jet-heeled winger has accumulated a total of 32 goals and 10 assists from 136 appearances for Gremio in all competitions.

To put things into perspective, signing Everton Soares would be a massive coup for Liverpool and the Reds should look to beat off competition from their Premier League rivals Man City.

The 23-year-old has not only made his presence felt in the domestic and continental club competitions but he has already made it to Brazil’s national team as well, which should be considered as a mighty leap in his developmental phase.

Standing at 5ft. 9 inches with a diminutive frame, Soares’ low centre-of-gravity allows him to keep exceptional close control of the ball and he brings his pace, flair and mesmerizing dribbling skills into play to cut inside from the flanks.

A player noted for his direct approach to the game, youthful exuberance and eye for goal, the Brazilian is not just a clinical finisher but he has a penchant for playing delightful through balls as well, which should help him make the step up to the Premier League.

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Soares might look like a complete pushover down the flanks in the Premier League but he can be really deceptive and nippy with his drive, determination, balance and considerable upper body strength. Renowned for his ability to change directions quickly, Everton is a technically-gifted and versatile attacker who can certainly enrich Liverpool’s squad depth.

The front trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah has once again lived up to the expectations, with the three players sharing a mammoth 61 goals among them in all competitions for the Reds so far this season.

Their prolific form has been pivotal to Liverpool’s surge for the Premier League title and their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League. With all the three players still very much in their prime, Liverpool can expect them to keep delivering the goods in the foreseeable future.

However, Jurgen Klopp needs to invest in back up options up front, with Daniel Sturridge out of contract in the summer and Divock Origi’s future far from settled.

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Xherdan Shaqiri looked like an absolute bargain for Liverpool in the first half of the season as the Swiss international produced some fine displays, but he has gradually slipped down the pecking order.

Hence, the Reds currently do not have a lot of cover in the attack and the acquisition of Everton Soares would add more firepower to their resources.

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That said, Liverpool should not hesitate to splash the cash to bring in one of the hottest talents in Brazil.

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Liverpool

This German winger with £21.5m release clause has the ideal skill-set to prosper for Liverpool – Agreed?

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Liverpool Opinion: Julian Brandt will as a new dimension to the Reds attack

According to a recently published report by British news outlet the Mirror, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are said to be ready to launch a sly summer move for Bayer Leverkusen’s star winger Julian Brandt, as they look to strengthen their squad in order to maintain the high level of football that’s currently being played at Anfield.

It has been suggested that Julian Brandt has a rather tiny release clause that’s attached to his contract making him easy prey for any of Europe’s high-profile sides. Still only 22, the youngster can be signed up by any team that’s willing to shell out the £21.5m that his contract itself demands. 

Considering that Brandt is one of Germany’s brightest young stars and has been touted for massive things in the future, this amount seems quite diminutive but none of the European superpowers will be complaining about the price as they know exactly what they’ll be getting if they do sign their man. 

Born in the magnificent German city of Bremen, Brandt began his youth career playing for local clubs Borgfeld and Oberneuland. It was finally in 2011 that he earned his first big break and was signed by a highly-rated Wolfsburg side. 

Being a team that were once challenging for various titles across Europe, a move to Wolfsburg was definitely the best move with the player’s best interests in mind. Despite making the switch back in back in 2011 though, it wasn’t until recently that his name was brought under the spotlight. 

This happened only he made a permanent switch to Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen in the winter of 2014. After this transfer, his rise to supremacy happened at an alarming rate and his exploits for club and country certainly haven’t gone unnoticed over the last few seasons. 

Since making the move to Bayern Leverkusen all the way back in 2014, the German international left-winger has played in over 200 appearances for the club already while he’s even managed to score 39 goals and picked up a further 48 assists as well.

This season, he has played in 28 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen while he’s managed to score 4 goals and assist 11. His numbers for Germany are quite good too as they read 24 caps and 2 goals since making his debut for Germany back in 2016. 

Since then, he has become a fairly regular member of the German National side and isn’t left out of the selection process often. His pace and dribbling skills have been renowned for a while. His excellent ability to pick out passes from large distances will also be a boost to Liverpool. 

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With a lot of the pressure generally falling on the shoulders of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, it is essential for Klopp to invest in another bright young player who can help take some of the load off their shoulders. Given his rather laughable release clause, there’s no reason why Liverpool shouldn’t go for him as he could be a top signing for the club.

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