Liverpool: Latest footage from van Dijk's comeback trail
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Liverpool have joined the race to sign Inter Milan defender Alessandro Bastoni alongside Barcelona and Bayern Munich, according to reports. The 21-year-old has excelled for the Serie A leaders this season, helping to keep ten clean sheets at the back as Inter chase their first Scudetto for 11 years.
Liverpool are expected to be active in the transfer market during the summer months, with boss Jurgen Klopp and transfer chief Michael Edwards said to be keen on overhauling the squad in order to mount a renewed Premier League title challenge next season.
The Reds have struggled all over the pitch this time around, but their main woes have been at the back with a number of long-term injuries weakening their defensive capabilities.
Schalke’s Ozan Kabak was recruited on deadline day to join on a temporary basis, with Liverpool retaining the option to buy at the end of the campaign.
The 20-year-old endured a shaky start to life on Merseyside but has impressed during recent outings, even making the Premier League’s team of the week for his performance in Monday’s win over Wolves at Molineux.
However, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will bank on him as a long-term solution or look elsewhere for a permanent addition in time for next season, with a central defender said to be at the top of the club’s wish list.
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Bastoni is a candidate that the Reds are keeping a close eye on, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The report claims that Liverpool are interested in a summer move for his services, and would have no problem paying a fee in the region of £43million in order to tempt him away from the San Siro.
However, they could face stiff competition from Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who have also earmarked Bastoni ahead of the transfer window.
He is seen as a key member of the squad at Inter and the club are understood to be eager to keep hold of their star man for as long as possible.
Talks over a new contract are said to be ongoing which, if signed, could scupper the transfer hopes of all three interested parties.
Bastoni is approaching three years of top-flight experience and has already played in a trio of matches for the Italian national team, marking his full debut in November with a clean sheet in a 4-0 thrashing of Estonia.
He has been compared to the likes of Paolo Maldini despite his tender years, with the youngster’s agent Tullio Tinti showering his client with high praise back in January.
“Alessandro is predestined,” Tinti told Italian station Radio Uno. “I have never seen anyone at his age play with this naturalness, perhaps only Maldini. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Liverpool could benefit from the arrival of Bastoni next season, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip set to return from their respective injuries in time for the new campaign.
The Italian would provide cover of the highest quality for the club’s established defensive stars, offering an upgrade to the likes of Kabak, Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams who have been tasked with filling in as of late.
The possibility of a transfer remains to be seen, with Inter unlikely to sell Bastoni unless they receive a sizable offer that leaves them unable to refuse.
However, he could be pursued as a prime target by Klopp and Edwards as the Reds continue their search for a new central defender.
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