Reds to spend big on highly-rated Serbian attacker.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has reportedly made Benfica playmaker Nemanja Matic his main target for this January’s transfer window, CaughtOffside understands.
The 24-year-old, who was voted player of the year in the Portuguese league last season, is a highly skillful and intelligent midfield playmaker, and his superb displays for Benfica have seen him attract interest from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in recent months.
After Benfica suffered disappointment towards the end of last season, finishing runners-up in both their domestic league and the Europa League final, it seemed likely that Matic would be one of several of their key players to end up leaving the club, with the likes of Ezequiel Garay, Nicolas Gaitan and Oscar Cardozo also eyed up by a number of Europe’s top teams.
However, Benfica placed an enormous £40m price tag on the head of the Serbian international, which put off interest in his signature for some time, though Liverpool now feel they may be able to tempt the Portuguese giants into parting company with their star player for £30m when the transfer window opens again in the middle of the season.
Reds boss Rodgers is desperate to land a creative midfield player for his side to take the pressure off Brazilian starlet Coutinho, who the club have shown something of an over-reliance on this season, which has been particularly evident during his time out injured.
Liverpool had been linked with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian and Christian Eriksen during the summer, though all three players ended up rejecting a move to Anfield in favour of Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and Tottenham, respectively.
As January approaches, Liverpool are again being linked with players of a similar calibre, including a possible return for former star Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid, though it has now emerged that the Merseyside giants will prioritise Matic to add some quality to their midfield.
Benfica will be keen to bring in as much money as possible for their highly rated talent, and Liverpool may be willing to pay closer to £40m depending on whether or not Luis Suarez leaves the club in a big-money deal.
The Uruguayan striker has long been a target for Spanish giants Real Madrid, who are expected to come in again with a bid in the region of £45m this January, which will see Liverpool reinvest the money into some big-name purchases for their squad.
They won’t want to pay over the odds though, and could still consider Sevilla’s Croatian international playmaker Ivan Rakitic has a more sensible option, with the 25-year-old likely to be available at closer to £20m.
Liverpool are hopeful of securing the signing of Matic however, particularly as United and Chelsea’s interest in the skillful midfielder is said to have cooled of late.