Liverpool advantage over Newcastle in race for defensive transfer target

Liverpool face competition from Newcastle for defensive target Ousmane Diomande. However, it's unlikely the Magpies will be able to do a deal this month.

The 20-year-old Ivory Coast centre back has emerged as a possible target for the Reds in recent days, while Anfield Watch understands his club Sporting CP will only sell for his release clause of €80m (£69m).

According to Portuguese outlet Jornal de Notícias (via Sport Witness), Newcastle are also keen on the rising star and have not given up on the idea of a move in the January window.

The report claims the Magpies are 'preparing an offer', while it's even said there is a chance that representatives from St. James' Park could travel to Portugal to discuss a deal.

However, Diomande's high price tag could prove a major stumbling block, with Sporting unwilling to compromise on valuation.

With Financial Fair Play a genuine concern for Newcastle – other reports have claimed the club are prepared to sanction the sale of a key star like Bruno Guimaraes in order to comply with spending rules – the option of splashing the cash on Diomande may not be possible.

Liverpool, having lived within their means under FSG in recent years, have no such financial concerns and could more feasibly sanction a deal for Diomande without fear of repercussions.

However, with the 6ft 3in centre back currently on international duty for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, thrashing out a January deal would be complicated for any club.

Meanwhile, Sporting's need for the star in their domestic title chase in the second half of the season means a summer switch – when Liverpool are more likely to be in the market for deals – is more probable.

Diomande, who was signed by Sporting for just €7.5m last year, is under contract in Lisbon until 2027.

Liverpool have also been linked with his teammate Goncalo Inacio in recent months, while the Reds remain interested in Levi Colwill – though Chelsea are not keen to sell.

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