red rAID How Liverpool is making bold statement with hijacking of Luis Diaz deal
There is nothing quite like an old-fashioned transfer hijack to quicken the pulse. That is what Liverpool are trying to execute over the next 48 hours.
Earlier in this transfer window any move for Porto’s Luis Diaz was not only denied by Anfield’s executives, it was suggested he was not even an active target in January. The reason for that was his fee – then thought to be £60 million (€72m).
Liverpool’s plan was to revisit in the summer if he was available and cheaper. But then Tottenham Hotspur came along and helpfully reduced the initial asking price to £37.5m (€45m). Liverpool have made it known that would be more acceptable and Diaz, it seems, is more inclined to play in the Champions League at Anfield and help Jurgen Klopp’s attempt to narrow Manchester City’s Premier League lead.
The contract still needs to be signed. The winger is on international duty with Colombia, preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina. Given the logistics, Liverpool were remaining cautious about how soon the formalities of the paperwork and medical could be completed before Monday.
That said, what would Liverpool be getting if their late move is successful? On the face of it, another dynamic wide attacker with an eye for goal, supplementing the firepower of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota.
After moderate goalscoring returns earlier in his career, Diaz seems to have had extra ammunition in his boots over the past 12 months. He has 14 goals in 18 league appearances for Porto this season, playing ostensibly as a winger. At last year’s Copa America, he was joint top scorer with Lionel Messi.
At 25, he fits the age profile of Fenway Sports Group, while at just under £40 million – although there are sure to be add-ons based on appearances and trophy success – it looks like solid business for one of the most sought-after players in Europe.
Last summer, Everton were the Premier League club showing most interest. Liverpool watched on, adamant the price tag was prohibitive and, not for the first time, they may be about to be rewarded for their patience.
Often unfairly accused of being in hibernation as they stand aside awaiting the right deal rather than any deal, Anfield’s recruitment team have demonstrated they are ready to pounce when circumstances are favourable.
That reflects a greater self-confidence during the Klopp era, Liverpool benefiting from the knowledge that once they show their hand, players tend to want to join the German manager. Gone are the days when the club seemed to be scurrying around the world trying to convince undecided stars that Anfield was the right place, only to be themselves outflanked by Manchester United (Mikael Silvestre), Arsenal (Alexis Sanchez) and Chelsea (take your pick of a dozen players between 2005 and 2015).
Adding Diaz could also relieve some, although not all, of the pressure on the club as they proceed with contract negotiations with star players. While all the focus is on Salah and whether he will extend beyond next year, little is said about Mane, who is in the same position. The prospect of losing both in 18 months’ time is unpalatable. Back-ups Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino have not sustained impressive cameos with back-to-back, high-level performances.
Sporting director Michael Edwards is leaving this summer and one theory is the club are determined to ensure his current assistant and successor, Julian Ward, makes a productive start. Ward is leading the negotiations on this deal.
Diaz would be a statement signing and enhance a squad still competing on four fronts in 2022. The Premier League may be on a break, but Liverpool are seeking another positive result this weekend.
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