Liverpool will reportedly battle Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur for the signing of River Plate striker Lucas Alario. Both the Reds and Spurs are keen but will have to pay the Argentinian attacker's £15.2 million release clause.
Spanish publication Marca (h/t TalkSport) has reported how Liverpool and Tottenham are expected to "go head-to-head" for the 23-year-old. However, Alario is also wanted by Serie A clubs Inter Milan and Torino.
The same reports revealed Liverpool have been on Alario's case before. The Anfield club has previously seen an £8.5 million bid knocked back by River Plate.
Yet, even if the Reds were to meet the release clause, any deal for Alario would likely still be a complicated one. The Daily Mirror's Ed Malyon reported back in March how third-party ownership issues need to be resolved before the striker could move on.
Liverpool aren't the only club from England's top flight who have kept tabs on Alario. He responded to the links with Tottenham back in July, opting to play down the rumours but still leaving the door ajar, per Argentinian source Ole (h/t Dan Kilpatrick of ESPN FC): "Like every player, I dream to play in Europe at some point in my career. For that, first I have to make things right at River, to keep growing and learning."
There's no doubt Alario is a talent. He's mobile, intelligent, good in the air and a classy finisher. He can play on the last shoulder of his marker, as well as with his back to goal as a target man who links with others.
He's the type of complete striker Reds manager Jurgen Klopp needs to make his high-energy pressing and combination passing click on a more consistent basis in the final third.
The lack of a natural centre-forward the manager completely trusts is the only question mark along the most exciting forward line in the Premier League. Klopp relies on playmakers and wingers such as Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
When it comes to choosing a striker, though, he struggles to decide between brittle target man Divock Origi or brittle, pacy forward Daniel Sturridge. The latter always seems to be at odds with Klopp's way of doing things, although he was outstanding in the recent 4-1 win over champions Leicester City.
Klopp has insisted there's no problem with Sturridge, per Squawka News:
Squawka News @SquawkaNews
Jurgen Klopp on Sturridge: "I have to make decisions, and I don’t make decisions because of transfer windows." https://t.co/cIq0mp1wH22016-9-12 19:52:06
Still, it would be no great shock to see Klopp pursue a new striker. If he does, he'll struggle to find a better young option than the gifted Alario. The Reds should stop wasting time and meet his release clause.
Reds Ready to Challenge Juventus for Axel Witsel
Klopp's ambitions could extend beyond acquiring a new striker. He reportedly intends to rival Juventus for Belgian midfield destroyer Axel Witsel.
The Daily Mirror (h/t Football Italia) suggests Liverpool may try to tempt Witsel out of a move to Juve. That won't be easy though, since the Bianconeri reportedly "have already agreed personal terms" with the player, who is out of contract at the end of the season, per Italian source Calciomercato.com (h/t Football Italia).
Witsel's current club, Zenit Saint Petersburg, want him to extend his stay in Russia, but that's deemed "highly unlikely," according to the same reports. It also seems equally unlikely Liverpool would be able to win any transfer tussle with Juve.
After all, the Serie A giants are in the UEFA Champions League every season and could likely offer the player more money. Juve need a talisman in the middle to replace Paul Pogba, who joined Liverpool's bitter rivals Manchester United this summer.
That's not to say the Reds' interest in Witsel makes little sense. He'd be an upgrade over Jordan Henderson and Emre Can as a tough tackler with a strong and varied passing radar, who could expertly shield a still-suspect back four.
Liverpool's move for Witsel would be an ambitious one. But securing a deal for Alario would represent an intelligent use of the club's transfer funds. Klopp would get a young attacking talent he could develop into a star.