Liverpool lead race to sign Goncalo Inacio

Liverpool are reportedly the favourites to sign highly-rated Sporting CP centre-back and Manchester United target Goncalo Inacio in the upcoming January transfer window.

According to German outlet Bild, Liverpool are the front-runners to sign Sporting CP defender Goncalo Inacio after fierce rivals Manchester United dropped out of the race for the impressive young defender due to budget constraints.

Inacio has progressed rapidly in recent years, becoming a key cog in Sporting’s defence and one of Europe’s best young central defenders. The 22-year-old has clocked up 129 first-team appearances for the Lisbon giants and has turned the heads of top European clubs with his fantastic form.

Part of the explanation of why he is so valued is his calmness in possession, passing skills, and playing out from the back, while also being predominantly left-footed—something that carries a premium at the top level.

The talented defender may consider a new chapter in his career when the transfer market re-opens in January, having grown in stature at Sporting CP. Inacio’s current contract with Sporting runs until 2027, having signed a new deal this summer, but a release clause worth an affordable €49 million could entice his suitors to make the move.
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However, one club that has now abandoned their pursuit of Inacio is Manchester United, who supposedly have limited resources in January and are likely to turn their attention to lower-cost alternatives.

The Portuguese defender had previously been identified as a potential replacement for Harry Maguire at Old Trafford, but the former United captain stayed put in Erik ten Hag’s side after his transfer to West Ham collapsed, despite the club’s agreeing to a £30 million deal.

Ten Hag remains determined to strengthen the position next summer after a number of exits from the defensive department last summer, including Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, and Teden Mengi, while preferred picks Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez struggle with fitness problems and prolonged injury absences.

United leaving the race would remove one potential stumbling block for Liverpool, who are also stepping up their long-term interest in Inacio. It was reported that the Reds made an enquiry about him in the summer, while it was recently claimed that Liverpool scouts have been regularly watching Inacio play for Portugal during the October international break.

Jurgen Klopp has a quartet of central defenders consisting of Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, and Virgil van Dijk, but the latter two are getting on in years, and plans are in place to identify long-term replacements in the position.

There has to be high-end talent in the pipeline ready to keep the machine humming. Inacio looks to be a total package, and a centre-back pairing of Inacio and Konate in the future could be a fearsome combo.

It remains to be seen if Liverpool do try to sign Inacio in January, but if the above reports are to be believed, they may not have to face competition from fellow Premier League giants Manchester United.

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