Reds boss Rodgers sees the addition of the young Spaniard as being the final piece in the jigsaw at Anfield.
Premier League leaders Liverpool are on the verge of sealing a deal to sign out-of-favour FC Barcelona defender Martin Montoya as soon as the winter transfer window opens again for business in the new year.
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It is an open secret on Merseyside that the Reds have made the addition of a new top-level full back their number one priority for the January transfer market, especially following the recent long-term injury suffered by their first-choice left-back Jose Enrique.
The ever-reliable Spaniard picked up a knee problem back in November that was not initially thought to keep the player out of action for too long.
However, that initial diagnosis subsequently proved to be wide of the mark, with Enrique then needing to undergo an operation to cure the issue that will keep the full back on the sidelines until at least February at the earliest.
And with both recent new big-money signing Mamadou Sakho or loanee Aly Cissokho failing to impress when asked to cover for Enrique by Liverpool head coach Brendan Rodgers, and young England Under-21 international John Flanagan more comfortable operating on the right-hand side of the back four than the left, the Northern Irishman has been busy these past few weeks scouring the market in the search of potential replacements for the Spaniard.
Rodgers has also tried changing his formation as well on occasions to accommodate Enrique’s absence, with the Reds boss having switched to three centre backs, with attacking wing backs pushing on, but that too has not worked out, with the manager quickly reverting back to a four-man defence of late.
And now it is understood that Rodgers has finally earmarked the player that he wants to bring to Anfield in the new year after compiling an extensive short list of possible full backs in conjunction with his scouting team.
Defenders such as Southampton’s Luke Shaw, Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand and Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose have all been closely monitored of late with a view to possibly being signed at the turn of the year, but each man has since been ruled out either due to their cost, as in the case of the young Saints left back, or their clubs not allowing them to leave in January, as with the latter two.
All of which means that the Merseysiders have now opted to put all their eggs in one basket as they attempt to land the La Liga champions’ young full back next month, with Reds managing director Ian Ayre having recently flown out to Spain to thrash out the terms of the transfer.
The former Spain Under-23 international has been with Barca throughout his whole career to date, with Montoya moving to La Masia when he was aged just eight.
And after starring in defence with the Barcelona ‘B’ team for three years between 2009 and 2012 under then head coach Luis Enrique, the right back was then promoted to the Barca first-team squad in February 2011, before then making his debut for the club in La Liga away to Real Mallorca later that month.
However, Montoya has generally struggled to both break into the club’s starting lineup and then keep his place in the team in the intervening period, especially with experienced Brazil international Dani Alves ahead of him in the pecking order.
So much so that over the previous three campaigns, the 22-year-old has managed to play in just two, seven and 15 La Liga fixtures respectively, while so far in this season the player has made only eight appearances in the league under new Barca boss Tata Martino, and even then the majority of those have come via the substitutes’ bench.
And with the Spaniard’s current contract in Catalunya now set to run out on June 30 2014, his employers face the decision of either trying to persuade Montoya to put pen to paper on a new long-term deal at Camp Nou, but without being able to offer the youngster any firm guarantees that he will be given more opportunities in the first team.
Or the Catalans can try and offload Montoya in a cut-price deal when the winter transfer window opens again next month, rather than risk losing the right for free at the end of this season.
And Liverpool, of course, know the predicament that Barcelona are in, with Ayre having been spending the past seven days trying to persuade the Spanish champions to sell the Reds Montoya on the cheap in January.
However, it is the Merseysiders’ understanding that the player himself has now finally lost patience with Barca and is determined to quit his boyhood club and try out a new challenge in his career abroad, either when the winter window opens, or at the end of this campaign, with Ayre and Co now thought to be extremely confident of being able to tie up a deal for Montoya by the end of this week.
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