Liverpool are continuing to monitor Sporting CP defender Goncalo Inacio, according to reports.
The 22-year-old centre back was linked with a move to Anfield during the summer transfer window, but ended up signing a new contract in Lisbon – albeit one with a €60m (£52m) release clause.
Ultimately, the Reds opted to focus their recruitment on the midfield rebuild and no defenders arrived before the transfer deadline passed on 1 September.
However, Anfield Watch understands that strengthening the defence remains a priority in 2024, with a left-sided centre back wanted.
Speaking earlier this month, transfer reporter Fabrizio Romano name-checked Liverpool as 'always in the stands' watching Inacio.
He said: "Inacio continues to impress as one of the top young defenders in Europe, showing huge potential with Sporting Lisbon and recently working his way onto Manchester United’s potential list of targets.
"But there is also Liverpool – the Reds have always been in the stands to scout and follow Inacio, but at the same time they never sent official bids or started negotiations."
Now, the Mirror claim that scouts from Liverpool were in attendance as Portugal beat Bosnia 5-0 during the October international break.
Inacio, who has four senior caps for his country, had a quiet night defensively, but still bagged an assist in the Euro 2024 qualification rout.
While Liverpool continue to track Inacio, the Mirror's report adds that the player's agent, Miguel Pinho, is not keen on a winter transfer – a standpoint shared by Sporting CP.
This is backed up by Portuguese outlet A Bola who say that Sporting are in no rush to sell. However, there is one obvious way Liverpool could try to force through a January deal, if they really wanted to get a jump on the competition.
A Bola add that the ‘only one hypothesis’ for a Liverpool move this winter is if they stump up the €60m release clause.
If Liverpool want to pay less, then Sporting may engage in negotiations at the end of the season. However, playing the waiting game may be risky, especially with the Euros on the horizon – a competition which could attract more interest in the young defender, who is also a target for Manchester United.
New defenders have been part of the recruitment roadmap for some time at Liverpool but whether new arrivals will come in January or next summer remains to be seen.
A dislocated shoulder has left Andy Robertson likely sidelined until the new year and may be one reason for the club to expedite plans for more cover at the back.