Alberto Moreno seemed to be a lock to join Liverpool in the coming days, but reports that talks between the Reds and Sevilla have stalled over the player's valuation are threatening to delay a deal the club absolutely have to make.
The Mirror's David Maddock claims Brendan Rodgers is even prepared to shift his focus to different options at the left-back position, as both clubs are miles apart in regard to the player's value:
Liverpool are ready to play hardball over their No. 1 defensive target Alberto Moreno. The Reds have refused to be dragged into an auction for the Spanish international left back, and contrary to reports in Seville have NOT agreed any fee for the 21-year-old.
Instead, boss Brendan Rodgers is prepared to look elsewhere, after flatly refusing to meet Sevilla's inflated asking price of £18m for the inexperienced full-back.
The two clubs have been involved in talks for the past fortnight, and Liverpool were even given permission to speak to the player, but there is still some distance between the two clubs' valuations.
[...] And unless the Spanish club becomes more realistic over their valuation of the defender—who just missed the cut for his country's World Cup squad—then he will look at other targets.
Liverpool have been very shrewd when it came to the transfer market in recent seasons, but the Reds can't afford to gamble on Moreno.
The Spaniard may be inexperienced, but he didn't rise to stardom overnight. Moreno has been tipped as a potentially world-class left-back ever since he broke into Sevilla's first team, and at the tender age of 21, he's already more than able to hold his own against the very best.
He was one of the driving forces behind Sevilla's march on the Europe League and was routinely tested by La Liga's army of talented wingers, passing most of those tests with flying colours.
Moreno isn't particularly big, but he has the pace and balance teams look for in a modern full-back. His passing and crossing are both top-notch, as both are qualities Spanish teams emphasise when nurturing young wingers.
His attacking potential is tantalising, but Moreno stands out from the multitude of talented left-backs for the work he does on the defensive side of the ball. His vision and positioning are top-notch, and the 21-year-old shows a willingness to defend that is often rare in younger players.
Moreno seems to enjoy dispossessing a player as much as he enjoys firing in a cross, and it's his defensive prowess that had Sky Sports' scouting department expecting him to make the World Cup squad for Spain.
The Reds have defensive needs, as we all know. If you don't believe me, just ask beIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri:
While there may be a handful of talented youngsters waiting in the wings, the likes of Tiago Ilori simply aren't ready to perform at the level the Reds require them to.
Ilori in particular is a curious case. Fans continuously bring up his name as a reason the club shouldn't invest in a defender, but the 21-year-old was solid at best for Granada, and he clearly is nowhere near ready to play consistent minutes for Liverpool.
The Portuguese has talent, and in time he could grow into the kind of player Liverpool need. But the Reds are going to the UEFA Champions League and finished last season as runners-up in the Premier League—they need players who can come in and contribute immediately.
Moreno is that kind of player. The development of Jon Flanagan was a pleasant surprise for Rodgers and company, but watching the youngster do everything possible to avoid touching the ball with his left foot while playing out on the left wing became almost comical after a while.
Flanagan needs to play on the right, where his particular skill set is a more natural fit. Fans tired of watching Glen Johnson forgo his defensive duties on the wing would welcome Moreno with their arms wide open immediately, and a pairing of Moreno and Flanagan would be one the Reds could benefit from for years to come.
More importantly, it would make the team stronger straight away. Moreno is an impact player at a position of weakness for Liverpool, and Sevilla know it. It's why they're reportedly asking for £18 million, and given the player's current abilities and vast potential, such a fee is far from preposterous.
The Reds have been linked with Moreno for a while now, and they need to wrap up this deal as quickly as possible, before other teams have the chance to step in. The Reds need a top left-back like him, and they simply can't afford to lose out on signing one, even if that means paying £18 million.