Friday, August 1, 2014

Liverpool close to strengthening defense

Liverpool hope to secure deals to bring Spanish full-backs Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo to Anfield.

Reds chief executive Ian Ayre has flown to Spain to tie up the signing of Atletico Madrid right-back Manquillo on loan with a view to a permanent transfer, sources have told ESPN FC.

There is also renewed hope at Anfield that a deal can be struck for Sevilla left-back Moreno, who has been one of manager Brendan Rodgers' main transfer targets this summer.

Liverpool had an offer of 16 million pounds for Moreno rejected in May, but have not abandoned hopes of signing him even while looking at potential alternatives.

Ben Davies was considered before he moved from Swansea to Tottenham, while Ryan Bertrand was another possibility -- although Chelsea's unwillingness to deal with potential Premier League title rivals cast doubt over a deal, and Bertrand has instead moved to Southampton on loan.

Rodgers is keen to sign a left-back despite the return to fitness of Jose Enrique, who missed the final six months of last season with a knee problem.

Enrique played through the early weeks of the campaign with the problem, but managed only 29 minutes of first-team football after Oct. 5 and none at all after Nov. 9.

Aly Cissokho failed to make the position his own during a season's loan from Valencia, and right-back Jon Flanagan moved across to become Enrique's regular stand-in over the second half of the campaign.

Moreno has played three times for Spain but just missed out on their final squad for the World Cup in Brazil.

The 22-year-old capped a successful domestic season by helping Sevilla win the Europa League as they beat Benfica on penalties in Turin in May.

Manquillo, who has represented Spain at Under-20 level, made three league appearances last season as Atletico Madrid won the Spanish title.

The 20-year-old, under contract with Atletico until 2018, is relatively inexperienced at senior level. Having joined their youth set-up from neighbours Real Madrid in 2007, he established himself as a regular in the B team, which plays in Spain's third tier.

Rodgers has made six signings so far this summer, bringing in striker Rickie Lambert, midfielder Adam Lallana and centre-back Dejan Lovren from Southampton, midfielder Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen, forward Divock Origi from Lille and winger Lazar Markovic from Benfica.

Lallana is out of action with a knee injury, while Origi has been loaned back to Lille for the coming season as part of the deal that brought him to Anfield.

Rodgers, having sold last season's 31-goal top scorer Luis Suarez to Barcelona for 75 million pounds, is still looking for a striker, with an 8.5 million-pound deal for QPR's Loic Remy falling through last weekend.

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