Liverpool have reportedly made a convincing stride in the pursuit of Sporting CP centre-back Goncalo Inacio, and are now believed to be the frontrunners in the transfer race for the touted star.

What's the latest on Goncalo Inacio to Liverpool?

According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola (via Sport Witness), Liverpool may have taken the lead in the race for the 21-year-old defender from Sporting, who are said to be willing to negotiate if his release clause of €45m (£39m) is met.

While Jurgen Klopp's Reds are not explicitly fronting the charge for the Portuguese's name, the fact that they are the solitary outfit named among the 'English and Italian suitors' suggests that they could be the primary outfit contesting for his signature.

In a separate recent report, Manchester United are also in pursuit and will seek to expand their Portuguese pool by signing the gem - only emphasising the necessity for concluding a deal in the early phases of the transfer window.

How good is Goncalo Inacio?

Inacio is but one maiden step into the scope of his professional career, but has already captured the attention of some of Europe's foremost sides for his exploits in his homeland with the Leões.

Having risen through Sporting's youth ranks, Inacio has made 121 appearances and demonstrated his capabilities outside the defensive aspects of his game by scoring ten goals and providing eight assists.

The two-cap Portugal starlet is close to completing his third season of continual progress at the top level, and has flourished in Liga Portugal this term, playing 32 matches, earning an average rating of 7.00 - as per Sofascore - and completing 90% of his passes, earning praise as a "complete" defensive ace by talent scout Jacek Kulig.

Indeed, as per FBref, the 6 foot 1 colossus ranks among the top 1% of centre-backs across top eight divisions below the European 'big five' for assists, the top 2% for shot-creating actions, the top 1% for progressive passes, the top 3% for progressive carries and the top 4% for successful take-ons per 90, underscoring his aptitude as a modern defender tailor-made for a first-rate outfit such as Liverpool.

With such brilliant ball-playing credentials, he could be the optimum alternative to coveted target Josko Gvardiol, with the RB Leipzig star arguably the hottest defensive commodity in world football at present, having been regarded as the perfect modern defender.

Hailed as a "Rolls-Royce" by journalist Zach Lowy, the Croatian prodigy ranks among the top 10% of positional peers across Europe's top five leagues for goals, the top 1% for attempted passes, the top 16% for progressive passes, the top 18% for progressive carries and the top 5% for successful take-ons per 90. Clearly, Inacio and his Leipzig confrère are cut from the same cloth, albeit the former has largely been playing at a different level.

The crux of the problem vis-à-vis Liverpool's pursuit of Gvardiol lays in the exorbitant fee touted, with Leipzig supposedly demanding his release clause of €110m (£95m) is met in its entirety in order to prise him away, and with him contracted until 2027, Marco Rose's outfit certainly appear to hold the bargaining chips.

Inacio, whose £39m tag seems paltry in comparison, might just be the better avenue to delve down, as he is cheaper and boasts every bit of the skill set required to succeed under Klopp's wing.

2023-05-26T19:53:41Z dg43tfdfdgfd