Liverpool transfers: Reds hold talks over £60m deal to sign 'next Javier Mascherano'

Liverpool's search for midfield reinforcements this summer has brought about fresh developments with Porto's Alan Varela.

Having recruited Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Alexis Mac Allister ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, it would appear the Reds - under new head coach Arne Slot - are on the market for a more defensive minded midfielder to provide competition for Wataru Endo.

Already this summer talk of a £40m bid for Atalanta's Ederson has been dismissed, although the Reds will have to stump up £20m more if they're to bring the aforementioned Varela to Anfield during the transfer window as the midfielder reportedly has a £60m release clause in his Porto contract.

According to Football Insider, Liverpool have held internal talks with Porto over a deal. After completing deals for Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez in recent years, the Reds are said to be keen to return to the Portuguese market, led by their data-driven scouting system under Michael Edwards.

Varela made 43 appearances for Porto across all competitions during the 2023/24 campaign, including eight in the Champions League where they fell at the round of 16 stage to Arsenal on penalties. Nevertheless, the midfielder gave a good account of himself by winning 0.8 tackles and making 1.3 clearances per 90 minutes.

To be linked with a move to Liverpool after one season in a top European league is testament to the 22-year-old's development over the past 12 months whilst Porto are in line to make a significant profit having signed Varela for £6.8million from Boca Juniors last summer.

Alan Varela

Uefa Champions League, FC Porto vs FC Barcelona, Barca round 2 of 6 Porto, Portugal, October, 4th, 2023,Uefa Champions League, FC Porto vs FC Barcelona, round 2 of 6 at the Estadio do Dragao, FC Porto, Alan Varela, photography by guelbergoes Porto Portugal

Varela 'the next Javier Mascherano'

Over the course of the campaign, comparisons with former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano began to emerge for Varela and comments from Porto boss Sergio Conceicao did highlight some similarities.

"I wanted a player who would occupy the same space as [Matheus] Uribe," Conceicao told O Jogo in February. I saw the potential to fit into the defensive line when a central defender comes out in coverage. He [Varela] didn't venture forward much, but it was for tactical reasons, because I think that he arrives well in front, defines well, has a good long pass and a good shot.

"There has been an interesting evolution. to appear more frequently. That's what we ask of the midfielders."

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