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Liverpool will reportedly not only face competition from Napoli in the transfer race for Benfica left-back Alejandro Grimaldo, but the Italians are also said to be sounding out interest in Reds defender Alberto Moreno.
The Merseysiders have for some time been linked with Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam as an upgrade of their own, and Sport Witness reported his recent “season-ending injury” turned the Partenopei’s attention to Moreno.
It was during a recent UEFA Champions League defeat to Manchester City that Ghoulam tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, as confirmed at the time by football writer Philippe Auclair:
Philippe Auclair @PhilippeAuclair
Faouzi Ghoulam: bad news. Cruciate ligaments injury, now confirmed, will be out for months, not weeks… https://t.co/Gg6iChwMQg
Moreno has himself been linked with the Anfield exit in recent times after falling behind converted midfielder James Milner for the vast majority of last season, but a recent return to form has him back in the good books.
And if Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp still wishes to sign a replacement left-back despite the summer arrival of former Hull City star Andrew Robertson, they may have to beat Napoli to former Barcelona B talisman Grimaldo.
Football Italia cited reports from Italian newspapers Corriere dello Sport and Tuttosport, which said Ghoulam’s absence has forced the Serie A leaders to consider investing in a figure they’ll hope will fill the void.
Benfica’s Spanish star has developed into a respected figure after a little less than two years in Portugal, and after lengthy spells on the sidelines in that time, he recently posted not long after his return to fitness:
Alejandro Grimaldo @grimaldo35
Gameday⚽️ #carregabenfica #AG3 https://t.co/wHcqafEQ21
Grimaldo joined Benfica from Barcelona B in January 2016 after struggling to make an appearance for the Blaugrana’s senior team, and many could consider the 22-year-old an improvement on any of Liverpool’s current options.
It looked highly possible Moreno could have left the club over the summer, and it was recently he opened up on the disappointment of losing his place to a player not accustomed to that position, per Goal:
‘Being behind Milner was f****d up’, admits Moreno https://t.co/3G5UZp4S8A https://t.co/fMMFZUFRn7
The 2014 signing from Sevilla recently told Spanish daily Marca (h/t Sky Sports) his idea “was to stay” at Liverpool and win his place back, a decision that’s paid off thus far as he regains the trust of his fans and colleagues.
Klopp is one of those who appears to have restored faith in Moreno—whose defensive traits, in particular, have improved in the Premier League—and recently gave the defender a glowing review, per Anfield HQ:
Anfield HQ @AnfieldHQ
Klopp on Moreno: “He did it now consistently which is really nice. I am happy for him because he had a very difficult situation last year. That’s how it was. We spoke before the last season what we wanted him to do differently. He needed a bit of time and now he is doing well.”
Italian website Calciomercato.com (h/t Daily Mirror) also recently wrote Benfica will not consider Grimaldo for less than €40 million (£35.6 million), and Liverpool may prefer to keep their cash and let Napoli target him instead.
The Reds are somewhat safe knowing Robertson and Milner could occupy the left-back slot should Moreno leave, with Napoli the far more pressured outfit to find a new player to fulfil that role.