Tiago Ilori vs. Tranmere Rovers. Credit: Propaganda

Liverpool unable to sell Tiago Ilori, defender to play in U23s

Expected to leave Liverpool this summer, Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori is instead set to stay and play U23s football for 2016/17.

Ilori finds himself way down the defensive pecking order on Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp moving to sign two new centre-backs this summer in Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip.

Having been recalled from an unsuccessful loan spell with Aston Villa in January, before going on to make just three FA Cup appearances for Klopp’s side, Ilori was widely tipped to leave on a permanent transfer this summer.

Olympiakos, Eintracht Frankfurt, Freiburg, Valencia and former loan club Granada were all reported to be interested in signing the 23-year-old.

Liverpool though did not want the centre-back to head out on loan again and instead wanted £4 million for the unwanted player.

But as the Mail report on Wednesday afternoon, interested clubs failed to match Liverpool’s asking price.

Ilori will now drop down to the Reds’ U23s ranks, and turn out for Michael Beale’s side in Premier League 2.

This will be a setback for Ilori, who will have been looking to salvage his career with a transfer this summer.

EXETER, ENGLAND - Friday, January 8, 2016: Liverpool's Tiago Ilori in action against Exeter City during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at St. James Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Persistent injury issues have hampered his development since an initial £4 million move from Sporting CP in 2013, with Ilori very much in need of a fresh start.

Instead, he will serve as a senior influence for the U23s, working alongside Beale and academy director Alex Inglethorpe to improve the likes of Juanma and Conor Masterson.

Along with Ilori, fellow centre-back Mamadou Sakho is reported to be staying with Liverpool beyond tonight’s 11pm deadline.

Klopp has been pushing for a loan move for the out-of-favour Frenchman, but Sakho is said to have dug his heels in, hoping to instead impress his manager on the training field.

It could be that Sakho partners Ilori in the U23s defence at times this season, with Klopp no doubt eager to maintain the 26-year-old’s fitness despite his lowly standing within his squad. That would also test Sakho’s professionalism.

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