Liverpool's search for defensive recruits this summer is reported to have taken them to the doorstep of Red Bull Salzburg, with centre-back Martin Hinteregger drawing Brendan Rodgers' eye of late.
According to The Guardian's David Hytner, Reds scouts were on hand to watch Hinteregger play the full 90 minutes of Austria's 1-1 draw against Uruguay in an international friendly last week.
The 21-year-old impressed in his duties as Luis Suarez's marker, too, with Hytner writing:
The tall and imposing Hinteregger caught the eye with his physicality and his composure on the ball. His style appears to be tailor-made for the Premier League. Since establishing himself at Salzburg, Hinteregger has also attracted the interest of Arsenal.
The English top flight would be a step up in what's demanded of the Austrian Bundesliga figure, but for one so young, Hinteregger is showing the early signs of being able to cope with the pressure.
Red Bull Salzburg's performances in the Europa League this season have been a particular testament if that upgrade in quality, the defender having played in seven of the club's eight wins thus far in the European campaign.
Squawka show that Hinteregger is joint-leader for his side in defensive actions performed per game this season (8) and a headed-duel success rate of 69 percent only speaks further of what Rodgers might see in his potential acquisition.
Those standards in European competition haven't gone unnoticed, with WhoScored nominating the stalwart for Team of the Week honours back in December:
Centre of defence has been an area of fierce debate this season, with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho further cementing their solid reputations with the Reds, while Daniel Agger's importance in the starting XI has waned somewhat and an ageing Kolo Toure continues to show some weak areas.
Should centre-back be a priority area of recruitment for Liverpool this summer?
As a result, it's understandable that the Merseysiders might seek fresher legs at the back, albeit an asset that might look to have more immediate impact than Sebastian Coates or Martin Kelly.
Burgeoning on not just the club but the international scene—his appearance against Uruguay was just his second cap—Hinteregger is at the head of a Salzburg side that's impressed in all facets this term, keeping three clean sheets in their last four Europa League outings.
If Liverpool are to embrace this new policy of money-saving tactics in the transfer market, a cut-price swoop for lower-risk, higher-reward signings such as this are exactly the gambles which must be weighed up.
In that train of thought, Hinteregger has a vital few months ahead in ensuring his 2013-14 season finishes in similarly impressive fashion, for a switch to one of Europe's elite divisions could rightfully come calling.