Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez caught the eye with a goal in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico, with Liverpool among the 21-year-old’s admirers.
Argentina were already a goal up through Lionel Messi’s second-half strike when Fernandez picked up the ball on the left-hand side of the box and curled home.
It showed the young midfielder’s quick feet and shooting ability, which have been key features in his first season with Benfica.
Since swapping River Plate for the Portuguese club in July, Fernandez has scored three and assisted five in 24 games so far, including assists against PSG and Juventus in the Champions League.
After the World Cup, he can look to a last-16 clash with Liverpool, who are keeping track of his development as they plot midfield additions in 2023.
On Friday, Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg reported that the Reds have a “very, very good chance” in the race to sign Jude Bellingham.
But the journalist, who has connections to sources close to Jurgen Klopp, added interest in two unnamed South American midfielders.
As Liverpool desperately scrambled for a late solution to their midfield injury crisis, Reddy assessed the situation.
While a deadline-day loan move for Arthur was sealed, it was explained that there had been efforts made to bolster the ranks in the middle of the park throughout the summer.
She outlined interest in Aurelien Tchouameni and Ryan Gravenberch, with Liverpool missing out to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively.
But perhaps most intriguing now is mention of a “watching brief” on Fernandez, whose move from River Plate was designed to “continue his development.”
That would suggest that, as with Matheus Nunes’ transfer from Sporting CP to Wolves, those within the club were aware of the situation but perhaps eager to see how the player progressed at a higher level before committing.
This stance has become a common one for Liverpool in recent years, taking fewer risks on talents when in the past they may have gambled.
One downside to this, of course, is that the price tag will inevitably increase, which will almost certainly be the case for Fernandez as his star rises in Qatar.
Benfica reinvested some of the £85 million brought in from the sale of Darwin Nunez to sign Fernandez for up to £15.5 million, with a release clause of over £100 million negotiated into his contract.
Messi told Ole after Saturday’s game that Fernandez’s ability “does not surprise me,” hailing him as a “spectacular boy and a very important player for us.”