Silva, Diomande & Inacio – Analysing Three Potential Liverpool Defensive Targets

Written by:

Share the love

After a successful midfield rebuild last summer, the next logical step for Liverpool is to combat the defence.

With Joel Matip’s career seemingly over at the club, and Van Dijk 33 by the time next season rolls around, the demand for another centre-back is steadily increasing as Klopp’s side will look to continue to challenge on all fronts. Whether the Reds will choose to target a defender this month or in the summer is still yet to be seen, but with Liverpool building up an increasing defensive injury list, opting for a defender now could be a smart option.

The Primeira Liga has emerged as a recent area of interest at Anfield following the 2022 signings of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez, with Portuguese internationals Goncalo Inacio and Antonio Silva along with Ivorian international Ousmane Diomande all names on the radar as potential signings. But just what can we expect from these names if one is brought in?

The 50 Greatest Liverpool Signings of All Time | 50-45

Goncalo Inacio

22-year-old Goncalo Inacio has been on Liverpool’s shortlist since the summer, with a £52 million release clause available if the Reds wish to pull the trigger. The Sporting CP centre-back is one of the highest regarded young defenders in Europe, whilst also offering Klopp a left-footed option in defence which is currently lacking.

With 146 league appearances under his belt already and 5 Portugal caps, Inacio has sufficient experience at a top level, contributing to Sporting’s league win in 2021. He’s also started 88% of games so far this season as Sporting currently sit top of the Primeira Liga.
Inacio ability on the ball stands out significantly, excelling in carrying the ball into the final third, similar to Joel Matip’s mazey forward runs we’re all going to miss. This is illustrated as he’s attempted 11 take-ons so far this season compared to 2 of Van Dijk, showing his willingness to carry the ball forward. He’s a player extremely comfortable on the ball, with good passing stats and a notable physical presence. His confidence with the ball at his feet shows he has all the attributes of a Jurgen Klopp-style defender. He also offers a significant threat from corners with three goals so far this season.

Should Liverpool sign Inacio, it would be interesting to see just how he’d fit in, as he’d naturally be more suited to the left-sided role that Van Dijk has occupied for six years. Would a move for Inacio see the captain switch to the right-hand side of the pair when they were playing together? Inacio also plays on the left of a three for Sporting, meaning time might be needed for him to adapt to a centre-back duo rather than a trio. It’s not a bad problem to have by any stretch, but it’s certainly one that raises discussion.

‘Gonçalo Inácio would be ready for Liverpool transfer!’ – Portuguese Expert on Reds Target

Antonio Silva

Inacio’s Portuguese teammate Antonio Silva is also rumoured to be on Liverpool’s radar. The 20-year-old Benfica star was a vital part of their league win last season, being named in the Primeira Liga’s 2022/2023 team of the year. He also made Portugal’s 2022 World Cup squad at just 19 years old, with 7 caps in total under his belt. Starting all but one of Benfica’s league games so far this season, Silva is emerging as one of the most sought-after young centre-backs in Europe with Chelsea and Man United also linked.

Unlike Inacio, Silva has been labelled as more of a “no-nonsense” type of defender rather than a “ball player”. However, his stats suggest he’s more of an all-rounder. He excels in making tackles in the mid and attacking thirds, whilst also boasting good defensive awareness and positioning. His progressive ball-carrying stats are also impressive, suggesting he isn’t afraid to carry the ball into the final third and turn defence into attack. His pass completion stats are very good too, completing 96.1% of the medium-range passes he attempts. 

According to A Bola (via Sport Witness) Benfica will hold out for £86million which is the contractual release clause for the 20-year-old, whose deal at Benfica runs until 2027, meaning the Portuguese international certainly won’t come cheap. Chelsea are widely regarded as the front runners to land Silva’s signature in their attempt to land a replacement for 39-year-old Thiago Silva, with rumours suggesting they’ve had a €60 million offer turned down.

It’s clear Silva is going to be costly, but at just 20 years old, Liverpool has the opportunity to sign someone who could be a starter for 10+ years, and maybe someone for Van Dijk to pass the torch down to as he starts to get older. Whether he is a typical Klopp-style defender is yet to be seen, but at just 20 years of age, Jurgen would have time to mould him into any type of centre-half he wanted.


Ousmane Diomande

Ivory Coast international Ousmane Diomande has also been linked with a move to Anfield in recent weeks as the search for a centre-back picks up the pace. Just 20 years old as well, Diomande has been a vital part of Sporting’s back three alongside teammate Inacio, whilst also gaining four international caps along the way. Starting all but one of their league games and featuring in all the Europa League games so far this season, he has established himself as a vital part of the squad at such a young age.

Starting his career in Denmark and moving to Portugal in January 2023, the Ivorian is actually very similar statistically to Inacio, specialising in ability on the ball including progressive and positive passes into the final third, tackles in the mid and attacking thirds and good ball carrying distance into attacking areas. He also boasts a high amount of touches in the defensive third, demonstrating his comfort with the ball at his feet. His passing stats showcase this, completing 93.7% of his medium-range passes. Stylistically he’s also been compared to Jurrien Timber who was signed by Arsenal in the summer.

Having only joined Sporting a year ago with a contract until 2027, acquiring Diomande this month would be difficult, however he seems to tick all the boxes of a Klopp-style centre-half; young, physical, comfortable on the ball, a good passing range with positive decision making. He certainly ticks a lot of boxes, as do Inacio and Silva.


Redmen Reacts

Targeting a centre-back this year seems to be the next natural progression of the side as Klopp continues to build his Liverpool 2.0, and it makes sense. We all know Van Dijk isn’t getting any younger, Matip has probably played his last game for the club and despite Konate’s brilliance, his injury record isn’t fantastic. With Champions League football almost certainly returning to Anfield next season, squad depth is as vital as it’s ever been. With Joe Gomez expected to revert back to his more natural centre-half role once Robertson and Trent are back in the side, a centre-back listing of Van Dijk, Konate, Gomez, Quansah and one of the potential new boys mentioned would definitely be more than adequate as Liverpool will hope to continue to challenge on all fronts.

In terms of who to bring in, Inacio seems to make the most financial sense with a release clause of around £52 million. In the modern footballing age, £52 million for one of the most exciting young defenders in Europe seems like a steal. Particularly one who offers so much to his game already at 22.

Silva would presumably be the most expensive to recruit and offer the most competition to land. With Chelsea and Man United developing a habit of splashing out ridiculous transfer fees at young players, realistically FSG aren’t going to win a bidding war when those two are involved. With an £86 million release clause, and other areas of the pitch still to combat with signings, signing Antonio Silva might be a step too far.

As for Diomande, the 20-year-old has already established himself as a vital part of Sporting’s side and seems to be the real deal. However, acquiring him won’t be easy, having only joined the Portuguese side 12 months ago, meaning his release clause of around £69 million may be the only way to land the Ivorian any time soon.
It certainly poses an interesting debate for the Reds on who exactly to target. If it came to picking, my personal choice would be Inacio as not only does he make the most financial sense, but he also offers the most versatility being left-footed and having the most experience of the three. Although he is used to playing in a back three, with Trent now deploying a more inverted role, Liverpool actually find themselves in a back three quite often, meaning he could slot in pretty easily. For £52 million, it’s a no-brainer for me.

However, with just a few weeks left of the January window, most fans agree that these are ones for the summer as opposed to now. But let’s not forget that Liverpool does have a reputation for going quietly about their business, so don’t be surprised if we see one of these young defenders holding up a red shirt before the month is up.


Spread the love
Supporter's Section

With over 30 shows a month

we cover every aspect of Liverpool FC, past present & future.

Now is the time to subscribe.

Previews, reactions, analysis, interviews

and more through the ups & the downs!

Join Redmen TV Plus Today

Subscribe Today Or
| Website designed & hosted by Cyberfrog Design Web Design Liverpool