Reds Face Competition from Newcastle United Over Sporting Star

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Inacio’s Rising Profile in Europe

Liverpool are reportedly set to face competition from Newcastle United in their pursuit of Sporting’s Goncalo Inacio. The 22-year-old defender has become one of the hottest prospects in Europe over recent months.

With Joel Matip’s future at Anfield in doubt due to the upcoming expiry of his contract, Liverpool’s desire for a versatile defender has increased.

Similarly, an injury to Newcastle United’s Sven Botman has left them with just two fit centre-backs.

Inacio won’t necessarily prove to be a cheap option for the two sides, with the release clause in his current contract reportedly standing at approximately £45million. However, the reports also suggest that both sides would be willing to trigger that release clause whether that be in the upcoming January transfer window or in the summer.

Who is Goncalo Inacio?

Goncalo Inacio is a 22-year-old central defender for Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese first division. The youngster has become an integral part of the Sporting defence, already making 17 appearances across all competitions so far this season.

His fine form for Sporting has also earned him four senior appearances for the Portuguese National Team, scoring two goals in those appearances. Transfermarkt currently values Inacio at £30million, but his high potential ceiling increases his value way above that figure.

Inacio’s Unique Left-Footed Advantage

Inacio is also left-footed, which has become somewhat of a luxury within the modern game due to the modern style of play implemented by the likes of Jurgen Klopp. In terms of stature and his key strengths, Inacio reminds me of his Portuguese partner Ruben Dias. His strength and ability on the ball is very similar to that of the Manchester City star, but I think it’s fair to say that Inacio holds more natural pace than Dias.

Inacio’s Defensive Prowess

So now we’re going to look at why exactly two of England’s top clubs are heavily linked with a move for Inacio. In terms of his defending numbers, Inacio averages 2.99 tackles + interceptions and 1.13 blocks per 90 minutes. Obviously, it’s important to note that he is featuring for one of the standout teams in Portugal, so his defensive requirements aren’t necessarily as big as it would be in the Premier League.

A Comparison with Premier League Standards

The youngster also averages 6.46 ball recoveries per 90 minutes which proves his strong ability to read the game and prevent any danger before it escalates, similarly to Virgil Van Dijk.

However, it’s Inacio’s ability on the ball that has seen his stock rise dramatically in the European market. In terms of passing, he averages 77.36 completed passes and 8.64 progressive passes per 90 minutes, with the latter being better than any other in Europe this season. It’s not just his passing that is incredible to see, but also his ability to carry the ball out from the back on his own. With the ball at his feet, the 22-year-old averages 65.4 carries and 1.94 progressive carries per 90 minutes. Again, no central defender in Europe averages more carries per game than Inacio.

Summary

Liverpool will need to move fast to get this deal completed, with the release clause making this deal a fairly easy one to conclude. The Reds have reportedly already put in a lot of ground work, especially last summer, which may just put them ahead of the Magpies in the race for his signature. In terms of the price tag, for a left-footed 22-year-old defender with an abundance of potential, I think £45million is a reasonable amount. Inacio would help massively in potentially sorting the left side of the defence, which has been a consistent issue since Klopp’s change in formation.

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