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2WYHHR9 April 06, 2024. Lisbon, Portugal. Sporting's defender from Portugal Goncalo Inacio (25) in action during the game of the Matchday 28 of Liga Portugal Betclic, Sporting CP vs SL Benfica Credit: Alexandre de Sousa/Alamy Live News

Goncalo Inacio again linked with Liverpool transfer – with £51m release clause

Sporting CP centre-back Goncalo Inacio has re-emerged as a target for Liverpool ahead of the transfer window, with the Portuguese available for £51 million.

Inacio has been widely reported as a long-term target for the Reds, with scouts tracking his form at Sporting for many months.

One of the earliest links was in March 2023, when Neil Jones reported for GOAL that Liverpool were watching him along with Benfica’s Antonio Silva.

Any interest was put on the back-burner, with This Is Anfield learning that Inacio was not an active target, but scouts were again in attendance for the Lisbon derby in November.

The proposed appointment of Ruben Amorim as head coach was expected to accelerate the pursuit of his defender, but that proved not to be the case with Arne Slot arriving instead.

However, Amorim’s failure to land a move to Anfield does not appear to have deterred interest in Inacio – at least according to Fabrizio Romano.

Romano took to Twitter on Monday to explain that both Liverpool and Man United were “monitoring” the 22-year-old, with the understanding that he is available for €60 million (£51m) due to a release clause in his contract.

New links come at a time when a centre-back signing is considered a priority for the Reds, having seen Joel Matip depart on a free transfer.

Matip’s exit leaves Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Jarell Quansah and Joe Gomez as senior options, though the latter has been more regularly used as a full-back.

The arrival of another left-sided centre-back can be expected when the transfer window opens, with Inacio certainly a convincing candidate.

The ideal left centre-back?

2K9F8NJ Goncalo Inacio of Sporting CP - Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP, UEFA Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK - 26th October 2022

Ahead of his 23rd birthday in August, the Sporting academy graduate has already played 171 times for the first team, including 49 appearances in the most recent campaign.

He is a versatile left-sided defender who is particularly comfortable in possession, while he has posted impressive rates of success in terms of tackling and aerial duels in recent seasons.

It is easy to see Slot employing Inacio as a third centre-back, starting at left-back, if Trent Alexander-Arnold is retained as an attacking right-back.

But he could more straightforwardly be viewed as an option to both cover for and eventually succeed Van Dijk as the left-sided centre-back.