Guillermo Ochoa: Scouting Liverpool Transfer Target

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Ochoa a potential replacement for Reina at Liverpool?
Ochoa a potential replacement for Reina at Liverpool?

In the wake of the stories linking Pepe Reina with a move to Barcelona as a potential replacement for the outgoing Victor Valdes in 2014, Liverpool are already casting the net in search of potential replacements.

Reina's father, Miguel, recently admitted that he and his son would be keen on securing a return to the Camp Nou, 11 years after leaving for Villarreal in 2002. Given Reina's perceived dip in form of late, it could be the right time for the Reds to consider cashing in on Reina.

According to the Daily Express, Liverpool have already lodged a bid for a possible replacement: Ajaccio's Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. The bid is believed to be in the region of £5 million (€6 million) with just six months left on the Mexican's current deal.

What sort of player is Ochoa then?

Something of a celebrity off the pitch, Ochoa enjoys a David Beckham-esque following in his home country, which is quite bizarre for a goalkeeper. However, it was clear from an early age that "Memo," as he is known, was a special talent.

After making a name for himself with Club America in Mexico, he transferred to Ligue 1 minnows Ajaccio in the summer of 2011 in a move still shrouded in controversy. The transfer was held up twice, firstly because the player was in the midst of Mexico's Gold Cup Clenbuterol scandal for which he was eventually found not guilty, and secondly, he almost ended up at Paris Saint-Germain instead.

Touted at one point as a potential replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar at Manchester United, and formerly linked with Arsenal, Manchester United, Fulham and Roma, the 27-year old still retains an outstanding reputation in his homeland.

Nominated for the 2007 Ballon d’Or World Footballer of the Year, Ochoa is a quality shot-stopper with an impressive command of his penalty area for someone so small and a useful habit of saving penalties. Oft-maligned for his perceived weakness at blocking long range shots, the player is a top talent with superstar status both on and off the pitch.

A Mexican international with over 50 appearances to his name, since arriving in France, Ochoa has been a revelation for les Ours. Regularly, the difference between Ajaccio sneaking a win, claiming a point or being left empty-handed given their perennial relegation battler status, Memo has enhanced his value since coming to Europe.

With just six months left of his deal, ACA chairman Alain Orsoni is likely to be forced to sell before the transfer window is up. What a bargain he will be.

With eight clean sheets this season and five last year as Olivier Pantaloni's men miraculously avoided relegation, his replacement Alex Dupont strengthened the Corsicans' back line before departing, but Ochoa has still caught the eye.

His impressive recent performance against Ligue 1 juggernaut Paris Saint-Germain (the second time this season he has kept a clean sheet against them) was one of his best so far in France.

The Mexican recently revealed that he wants to play Champions League football, so obviously if he joined Liverpool he would not get that straight away, if at all, but it would certainly be more likely than in Corsica.

It will be a shame to see him leave Ligue 1, if he does depart this month; France's top-flight has become something of a haven for young Hispanic goalkeepers given Nice's talented Colombian stopper David Ospina's presence.

However, it would be understandable, as he has clearly outgrown a club that have recently started to move backwards after taking some positive steps since their return to Ligue 1 in 2011.

Despite the aforementioned murky deal to bring Ochoa to the club in the first place, he almost left earlier this summer amidst interest from Olympiacos, Turkish duo Fenerbahce and Besiktas and Sevilla, but he elected to stay.

Now, it seems likely that this time he will be going, and €6 million for a player who is out of contract in six months' time is a good deal for a club as limited as Ajaccio.

One thing is for sure, though: Liverpool fans can look forward to finding Memo.