“If An Opportunity Emerges…” – Neil Jones On Liverpool Links To ‘Portuguese Boss’

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As we reach the end of the last international break of 2023, Liverpool’s stars have been in good form ahead of their crunch match with Manchester City.

Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez both scored crucial goals in statement World Cup qualification wins over Brazil and Argentina respectively. Mo Salah continued his magnificent goalscoring form, plundering four in a 6-0 victory over Djibouti.

Closer to home, Trent Alexander-Arnold started in midfield in consecutive games for England. Harvey Elliott put in a man-of-the-match performance at Goodison Park last night for the under-21s, scoring twice.

Dominik Szoboszlai also bagged a brace to help seal Euro 2024 qualification for Hungary. The Magyars captain celebrated an incredible solo goal with a post-match shot of local spirit Palinka.

Looking ahead to the weekend – one of Manchester City’s key men could be Portugal’s Rúben Dias. The defender has been superb since his move from Benfica in 2020, winning three league titles and a host of individual awards. Links have persisted between Dias’s international central defensive partner Gonçalo Inácio and a possible move to Anfield. Manchester United are also believed to be monitoring the 22-year-old.

On the latest episode of our Journo Insight show, we asked experienced LFC reporter Neil Jones for his thoughts on the Inácio links.

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“I think Liverpool still need to buy a centre back. It might be the case that they do it before the event, so they do it in January – à la Díaz, Gakpo type of signing… if you’ve got a release clause, it makes it a lot easier.

“Inacio – he’s a left-sided centre back, can play left back. He’s a centre back really. That does bring with it a problem if you’re spending £50 million on a player who plays in the same position as Virgil.

“He’s clearly got a move in him. Soon, you would expect. I think the question will be: how highly do Liverpool rate him? There’s no question they need a centre-back – is he the one?

“I don’t think they were ever close to signing him in the summer. I don’t think they were close to signing any centre back in the summer. Whether that’s changed for January – at the moment, I’d be surprised.

“If an opportunity emerges – as it did with Luis Díaz, as it did with Cody Gakpo – then potentially.”

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Redmen Reacts

Gonçalo Inácio – dubbed the ‘Portuguese boss’ – certainly has the profile of a Jürgen Klopp FSG signing. He is the right age, and has played over 100 games, including in the Champions League. He is a domestic league and cup winner whose form has been rewarded with international caps. Add to the mix a release clause – the ingredients for a transfer are there! Inácio is also a keen gamer – perhaps Diogo Jota can sell the idea of a move over a few games of FIFA!

Despite Joël Matip’s form returning to something like his best, a ruthless club would move him on at the end of the season. Jarell Quansah has looked like a Liverpool player in his brief career so far and could be trusted with more minutes next season. Inácio is extremely unlikely to replace the re-energised Virgil van Dijk as left-sided centre-back. Perhaps the Reds could look to title rivals Manchester City for inspiration? Summer signing Joško Gvardiol has had to slot in at left-back as he finds his feet. A fee around the £50 million mark could be justified if Inácio can get minutes there, as well as in the centre.



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