2PNX87A Lisbon, Portugal. 20th Apr, 2023. Manuel Ugarte from Sporting CP in action during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg football match between Sporting CP and Juventus FC at Estadio Jose Alvalade. Final score: Sporting CP 1:1 Juventus FC (Photo by Bruno de Carvalho/SOPA Images/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Liverpool ‘start talks’ for Uruguay midfielder with €60m release clause

Liverpool have opened talks with Sporting CP over a deal for Uruguay midfielder Manuel Ugarte, reports claim, with a €60 million fee touted.

Progress in the Reds’ transfer plans is expected to be made over the next month, with Jurgen Klopp eager to bring in reinforcements as early as possible.

To that end, journalist Bruno Andrade has told CNN Portugal that Liverpool have initiated contact with Sporting CP over their defensive midfielder Ugarte.

Talks have begun over a possible deal for the 22-year-old, who has spent the past two seasons with the Lisbon club after a brief spell with fellow Portuguese outfit Famalicao.

Newspaper O Jogo has corroborated Andrade’s claims, adding that Newcastle, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Leeds are also interested, meaning Liverpool “can’t delay.”

Klopp is said to have been impressed with Ugarte’s performances for Sporting, with WhoScored noting that he has made the most tackles in both the Champions League (29) and Europa League (24) so far this season.

That is despite Sporting exiting the group stage of the Champions League and Ugarte only having played four games in the Europa League.

Sporting, who will gain 70 percent of the player’s rights when he plays two more games, are said to be only willing to part ways with their No. 15 for his full release clause of €60 million (£53.1m).

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2023: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andrade is a reliable source when it comes to transfers in Portugal, having previously reported on Liverpool’s interest in Matheus Nunes while at Sporting.

It remains to be seen whether the Reds will sign Ugarte, of course, with it likely that they have reached out to a number of clubs as they cast their net wide for midfielders.

But he is of a different profile to the majority of others Liverpool have been linked with so far, as a hard-tackling defensive midfielder.

That could suggest that Klopp is seeking competition for Fabinho in the No. 6 role, with the Brazilian – who will turn 30 in October – losing a step this season.

There remain high hopes for Bajcetic coming through, but the teenager was more regularly utilised in the left-sided No. 8 role upon his breakthrough in the first team.

Ugarte could be a strong signing, even at the £53.1 million quoted, with scope to develop into an elite midfielder at Anfield.