Liverpool have reportedly stepped up their interest in signing Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo, who is also a major target for Premier League rivals Chelsea.
The Uruguayan has stepped up for cash-strapped Barca this season, making 18 appearances across all competitions. Indeed, since Xavi took over from Ronald Koeman as the coach of the Catalan side, Araujo has been one of his first-choice centre-backs.
The defender is currently under contract until 2023 and has also been attracting significant interest from Chelsea. However, El Nacional claims that the Reds have stepped up their bid to lure the 22-year-old to Anfield.
The report adds that Araujo is currently ‘dragging his feet’ over a contract renewal. The reason for that is largely down to Barca’s financial situation and the fact that they are unable to offer lucrative deals at this time.
That particular scenario is said to have peaked Liverpool’s interest, with Jurgen Klopp shortlisting the player as a long-term option in his back four.
Barcelona reportedly value the player at around £38million, a figure that will not trouble the Reds’ money men.
The Merseysiders would also be able to offer Araujo improved terms. Chelsea, however, may also have something to say in that regard.
On the face of it, Liverpool are already well-stocked in the centre-back department. But with Nat Phillips being tipped to move on and increasing doubts over Joe Gomez’s future, there is a potential opening in Klopp’s first-team squad.
At this stage, it’s unclear whether the Reds will make their move in January or next summer. However, El Nacional adds that an offer for the player is forthcoming.
Liverpool favourites to land Wolves star
Meanwhile, Liverpool are the favourites to sign Rayan Ait-Nouri from Wolves, according to a report that also puts Real Madrid into the frame for his transfer.
Ait-Nouri has been attracting some transfer interest recently thanks to his positive performances at Molineux. The left-back has cemented a starting spot in recent weeks for Bruno Lage’s side.
He has started eight games in the Premier League so far this season, mainly coming over the past two months. With two assists to his name – one each in the league and EFL Cup – he has been gaining momentum.
A report earlier this month suggested he was a target for Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Then, higher-ranked clubs began to circle; links emerged with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain were also linked from the continent. Now, El Nacional have revealed that Real Madrid are also in the running.
Aware that Marcelo is in the final months of his glittering stint at the Bernabeu, they are looking for a long-term successor. Ferland Mendy has a future at the club, but they are looking for another option alongside him.
Ait-Nouri, at 20 years old, could reinforce them for years to come. But the report warns they look likely to miss out on his signature to Liverpool.
Of all his suitors, Liverpool’s need for a new left-back seems the smallest. Andy Robertson is one of the best in the world and backup Kostas Tsimikas has been making more of an impression this season.
But El Nacional insists they want to bring in Ait-Nouri as Robertson’s new deputy. To do so, they would be willing to offer him a higher salary than any of his other admirers.