Liverpool’s New Manager Could Begin With a Perfect Start by Revisiting £179 Million Transfer Plan

Liverpool’s interest in Sporting Lisbon has been ongoing for some time, predating any speculation about Ruben Amorim as a successor to Jurgen Klopp.

A cursory look at the players managed by Ruben Amorim reveals several notable names, including three former Liverpool players. Sebastian Coates stands out as his second most-utilized player, having made 172 appearances under Amorim’s guidance as the captain of Sporting Lisbon.

On the other hand, Rafa Camacho and Tiago Ilori, although not significant figures, also had stints under the tutelage of Amorim at Sporting Lisbon.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that many of Amorim’s former players, despite never representing Liverpool, have been linked with moves to Anfield over recent years.

Pedro Goncalves, Goncalo Inacio, Marcus Edwards, Matheus Nunes, Joao Palhinha, Manuel Ugarte, Ousmane Diomande, Jerry St. Juste, Nuno Mendes, Viktor Gyokeres, Morten Hjulmand, and Eduardo Quaresma are all identified as potential targets for Liverpool’s transfer pursuits. However, the strength of these links varies significantly.

For instance, the ECHO revealed in January 2023 Liverpool’s interest in Nunes, prior to his move to Manchester City last summer. Additionally, Liverpool’s admiration for Palhinha has been frequently reported.

Conversely, Inacio has often been linked heavily with Liverpool, and the ECHO previously reported their monitoring of Diomande in January.

In the contemporary football landscape, scouting has evolved beyond traditional methods, making it challenging to distinguish between mere speculation, agent influence, and genuine interest.

Liverpool representatives frequently attend matches to assess numerous prospects, which may explain why several of Ruben Amorim’s players have been linked with Liverpool.

But one thing is evident, Liverpool has been keeping a close watch on Sporting Lisbon and their manager, Amorim.

With Amorim being touted as one of the top contenders to succeed Jurgen Klopp as manager in the upcoming summer, Liverpool’s top brass must have conducted thorough research on him and his team over the past few years.

Although Liverpool’s connections with Portugal have been well-documented, extending beyond Sporting, they have yet to directly acquire any players from Estadio Jose Alvalade. However, they have made significant signings such as Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz, and Diogo Jota, amounting to a combined fee of £179m.

Following the signing of Diaz in January 2022, Klopp credited Reds assistant manager Pep Lijnders and elite development coach Vitor Matos, both of whom had previously worked at Porto. Matos, particularly, had been at the club when Diaz was signed from Colombian side Junior de Barranquilla, thus alerting Liverpool to the Colombian international and facilitating his move to Anfield.

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“We cannot watch all interesting players closely, me or the coaches; our scouts are doing that and that’s what we have the department for,” the German said. “Very often we just get a hint that we should have a closer look at him or him and we do that.

“That doesn’t mean he’s a player for us in the next transfer window but with Porto obviously it is different because of Pep and Vitor (Matos). I’m not sure but Vitor probably watches all Porto games and Pep a lot of them, and they were very early and told me, ‘That’s a very interesting boy there and we should have a closer look’. Since then we are watching him.

“It is part of the process. We cannot constantly watch the whole world but the club is pretty busy with that. If there’s a good player or a real talent out there, we know him. We just have to make decisions on whether it is interesting for us or not, do we have somebody in that position or not, do we have someone coming up in that position, do we have a young player to follow on? All these kind of things. That’s the process.”

In a departure from earlier methods, where scouts like Geoff Twentyman and Tom Saunders would personally seek talent across the UK before advising Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, and Joe Fagan, initial scouting now often occurs virtually. However, Lijnders and Matos’ connections to Porto and Portugal proved invaluable for Liverpool in their pursuit of Diaz.

Similarly, when Liverpool acquired Jota from Wolves, Lijnders played a pivotal role. During the deliberation over a three-man attacking shortlist in the summer of 2020, Lijnders reached out to trusted contacts at Porto for insights into Jota. This helped Liverpool secure Jota in a £45m deal, overcoming competition from Ismaila Sarr and Jonathan David.

Having spent eight years at Porto early in his coaching career, Liverpool’s assistant manager drew on his connections within the Portuguese club to gather information about Jota as interest in the player grew behind the scenes.

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“Through his contacts back in Portuguese football, Pep was given glowing references on the player’s character and he believes [Jota] can become a difference maker within our framework over time,” said one source at the time.

Additionally, thanks to former sporting director Julian Ward’s connections in Portugal and with Benfica, the Reds swiftly finalized a deal for Nunez, potentially setting a new club record of £85m. Nunez had already caught the attention of Lijnders and Matos prior to Liverpool’s encounter with Benfica in the 2022 Champions League quarter-finals.

“He was on the list of players and we have this Portuguese department who watch each game even though they struggle a little bit to watch the Benfica games because they are both from the blue side of Porto, but it was clear he was really good,” Klopp would later reveal.

“Luis Diaz was the best player in the Portuguese league and we got him,” Lijnders also teased after signing Nunez. “After he left, Darwin Nunez was the best player in the Portuguese league and we got him. He’ll be fine here.”

Liverpool’s ties to Portugal’s football scene may endure despite impending departures. While personnel like Ward, Lijnders, and Matos are exiting, Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes bring their own networks. Moreover, Fenway Sports Group’s potential hiring of Benfica’s Pedro Marques indicates sustained Portuguese connections.

Even with changes afoot, Liverpool’s access to Portugal remains robust. This bond has been fruitful and is likely to continue, whether or not they pursue Amorim as their next manager.

Amid the search for Klopp’s successor, Amorim emerges as a compelling option. His success at Sporting, nearing a second league title, makes him an enticing prospect. Additionally, his past triumphs with Sporting and Braga underscore his managerial prowess.

Liverpool is still in the process of shortlisting candidates. However, their foresight following Klopp’s departure hints at a well-prepared transition. Whether Amorim is their choice or not, their approach is calculated.

Fans have become accustomed to transfer speculation. Yet, Liverpool’s past scouting of Sporting Lisbon, while inconclusive, may prove pivotal in their managerial pursuit.

In Liverpool other news, Jurgen Klopp Must Deploy Liverpool Duo in Rare Plan That’s Already Succeeded Five Times

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