Liverpool may have won the race for Argentina and Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez and ‘agreed’ on a deal ahead of a June 2023 transfer, according to fresh reports from South America.
Fernandez, 21, moved to the Portuguese capital in July after establishing himself at South American giants River Plate.
However, it now looks like the midfielder could be set for his latest big-money switch, with Argentinian outlet La Capital claiming his outstanding performances for Lionel Scaloni’s World Cup side prompted Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool to make a move.
Anfield officials, still managed by outgoing sporting director Julian Ward, are believed to have reached an agreement with Benfica over a deal to bring Fernandez to Merseyside in June. The report claims the Reds have struck early in a bid to fend off expected interest from Manchester United and Manchester City.
“Liverpool has stepped up efforts to include Enzo Fernández and has already signed a pre-contract with Benfica, the Portuguese club who hold the federation rights to the young Argentine international midfielder, who played during the World Cup in Qatar,” the report claims.
“In this way, the English club anticipated two other Premier League giants, Manchester United and Manchester City, institutions that also planned to add the former River and Defense and Justice from June 2023.”
However, Liverpool’s rumored interest in the wonder midfielder is not an immediate response to his eye-catching display alongside Lionel Messi at this winter’s final in Qatar, where he more than played his part in helping the Albiceleste to a third World Cup success.
Despite his recent move to the Estadio da Luz, the Reds were suspected to be considering a move for Fernandez during the summer months, just weeks after he signed for River Plate. Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy claimed that officials on Merseyside have kept a “watching brief” on Fernandez following his move to the Prima Liga giants back in July.
Ward is known to have a strong relationship with those in Portugual after previously holding a role as Liverpool’s European scouting manager, with a particular interest in Portugal and Spain. Ward was first able to make use of those connections last January as worked alongside Michael Edwards to strike a deal for then-Porto forward Luis Diaz, who had been close to agreeing on a switch to Tottenham Hotspur.
After Edwards’ departure earlier this year, Ward was tasked with leading the pursuit of Darwin Nunez from Benfica, whom he agreed to an initial £64m deal with. It was during face-to-face talks with the club’s president and sporting director Rui Costa that the 41-year-old was able to conclude a deal for the Uruguayan.
Liverpool had been in the market for midfield reinforcements during the summer but after Real Madrid swooped to secure the signature of Aurelien Tchouameni from AS Monaco just days after their Champions League triumph at the Stade de France, it meant that Klopp’s list of prefered targets was dwindling.
The Liverpool manager also later conceded that Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham was not for sale during the summer, despite the Reds’ clear interest in the English superstar.
“He’s not on the market,” said Klopp in July, when asked about a potential move for Bellingham. “So that’s the first problem with that player. Well, the only problem with that player!
Fernandez is expected to start in Argentina’s World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia on Tuesday evening.