Exclusive – Liverpool have made Bayer Leverkusen's Piero Hincapie a top defensive target ahead of the summer, but were turned down over a possible January deal.
The 22-year-old Ecuadorian is currently managed by former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso at Bundesliga-topping Leverkusen, where he has made 19 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Anfield Watch reported on the Reds' links to Hincapie last summer, though nothing came of the interest back then, with Liverpool focussed on their midfield rebuild and Leverkusen prepared to wait until 2024 before sanctioning a sale.
Now, Anfield Watch understands that Hincapie has been earmarked as a top candidate for the left-sided centre back role – a priority area of focus for the Liverpool recruitment team – ahead of this summer.
Such is the Reds' interest in the 30-cap Ecuador international that the club even made enquiries about bringing forward a deal this January, but those advances were rejected by Bayer Leverkusen, who won't entertain a sale amid their ongoing title challenge.
Hincapie has not always been first choice for Alonso's side in 2023/24 but is seen as one of the brightest young prospects in the Bundesliga and is capable of playing at both centre back and left back.
Jurgen Klopp has publicly played down suggestions that Liverpool could make a first-team signing this month, despite injuries taking a serious toll on the Reds' backline.
While full backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are due to return to action imminently, Joel Matip is out for the rest of the season and Joe Gomez has been required to provide cover in multiple positions.
Despite being told no by Leverkusen this month, Hincapie – who shares an agent with one-time transfer target Moises Caicedo – remains a target for Liverpool this summer. The Reds are, however, still assessing other options.
Sporting CP's Goncalo Inacio is another left-sided defender who has frequently been linked, while Anfield Watch has been told that the Reds still hold an interest in Chelsea's Levi Colwill, though a deal remains highly unlikely due to Chelsea's reluctance to sell.