Liverpool have signed some of Europe’s top young talents down the years.
Most recently, Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg were signed to improve the club’s acadmey. And now a talented defender is tipped to join them.
A recent report from Portuguese publication A Bola has claimed that Liverpool are interested in signing Nuno Mendes.
The Daily Star recently quoted that Sporting could potentially look at offers in the region of £10 million with Manchester United also credited with an interest.
Mendes is a 18-year-old defender who predominantly plays at left-back, but can also be utilised in central defence.
Despite still waiting for his first senior appearance at Sporting Lisbon, there are a number of European clubs interested in securing the services of the talented teenager.
The report claims that Sporting are looking to raise additional funds at the club this summer which could prompt them to consider sanctioning a deal for one of their best upcoming talents.
On the face of it, Liverpool are currently in no urgent need of another left-back following the recent signing of Kostos Tsimikas from Olympiacos last month. The Greek international was brought in to provide much-needed cover for Andy Robertson – who has missed just four league matches over the previous two seasons.
However, the dynamic does change when you consider the player’s age and the fact he can also play at centre-back.
Mendes will not be required to go into Liverpool’s first team for around two years, and can develop with Barry Lewtas at the under-23s.
Liverpool would not have to rush him, and can allow him to develop and work on his game under our coaching staff, until he is ready to step in further down the line.
The alleged Liverpool target is impressive further forward as well. Prior to lock-down, Mendes had one goal and three assists for Sporting’s U23s.
Liverpool will always be planning for the future given their status as Premier League champions, but in the case of Mendes, it would be no surprise if he ultimately shines on the wing.
The Reds currently possess the two best full-backs in world football and both are still relativley young which would make it difficutlt for Mendes to break into that specific area of the team in the long-term.
However, Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three are all 28, and the Reds aren’t currently blessed with an array of options as cover for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Also, Klopp’s tactical system makes the full-backs the most creative outlets on the team with an emphasis on attack which is something Mendes could benefit from in the long-term. Gareth Bale is perhaps the most famous case of a full-back-turned-attacker and given the Klopp’s history of developing full-backs, who is to say this couldn’t happen with Mendes.
Planning for the future
Two years down the line, there is every possibility that Liverpool’s defensive set-up could look very different.
Tsimikas is six years Mendes’ senior and considering Robertson is only 26, there is no guarentee that Tsimikas will be content with playing as a defensive deputy for any longer than two years.
Also, Mendes can play in central defence which is a pressing area for Jurgen Klopp considering the club are yet to bring in a replacement following the departure of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg last month.
Liverpool have been benefeciaries of their forward-planning approach in the transfer market and signing Mendes now could ensure Liverpool have a ready made alternative who could play a role in 2022 (if not sooner).
Sporting’s president Frederico Varandas recently gave the young defender a glowing reference after he touted Mendes as ‘the best Under 19 left-back in Europe’ [Mail].
A player of this potential is always worth gambling on as Liverpool demonstrated in the case of Harvey Elliott last season. Klopp will be in no rush given his acquisition of Tsimikas earlier in the window, and Mendes will not be played too early, and too harshly judged.
Instead he can grow slowly at Liverpool, and contribute the coaches deem he is ready .More competition for places is always welcome – especially at a club with Premier League and Champions League aspirations this season.
With the likes of Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Billy Koumetio, Ki-Jana Hoever, Sepp van den Berg and Elliott, Liverpool’s array of young potential is limitless and there is no reason the club wouldn’t benefit with another aspirng talent who would thrive at Liverpool’s Kirkby academy set-up.
Given Sporting’s financial position, Michael Edwards could look another bargain in the window. It would be better to buy now, rather than risk splurging heaps of cash further down the line.
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