With May just around the corner and the end of the Premier League season on the horizon, Liverpool supporters’ thoughts will gradually be turning to the summer and all the usual craziness that it brings. The club is in the slightly unusual position of having already wrapped a key piece of business in advance of the transfer window opening - VERY much in advance, to be accurate: the pending arrival of midfield star Naby Keïta was secured during last summer’s negotiations.
Injuries have meant that Jürgen Klopp has had precious little room to maneuver during this exceedingly crucial stretch of the season, and one of the areas where that issue has been most glaring has been the midfield. Keïta’s arrival will go some way towards alleviating that pressure next year, but with Emre Can still looking likely to leave, and with James Milner not getting any younger (despite his efforts to prove otherwise), more reinforcements might be needed. Napoli’s Jorginho has been prominently discussed, but there may now be another name to add to that list.
A number of English and other outlets, including the Echo, have cited indications from Portugal’s O Jogo suggesting that Liverpool are looking closely at Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes. Some of the reports claim that officials from the Merseyside club have already reached out with inquiries, and have been keeping an eye on the midfielder’s performances in the Europa League (Sporting were recently eliminated by Atlético Madrid in the quarterfinals of that competition).
The 23-year-old has been deployed in a number of positions across the midfield this season, though it seems his preference has been to operate more centrally. Having just joined Sporting following spells in Italy with Udinese and Sampdoria, Fernandes has demonstrated excellent positioning and awareness for a player of his experience level, as well as an eye for the odd long distance attempt on goal. He’s notched eight goals in his domestic league and three in European competition (plus ten assists on all fronts), which seems respectable given the level of competition (periodic reminder that some of us were also very excited about Lazar Marković).
Fernandes is still something of an unknown quantity, despite seemingly being on the verge of announcing himself, particularly if he is given a chance to impress at the World Cup. If the interest on Liverpool’s part is genuine - and there’s not a lot of indication yet that it is - the chief impediment could once again be the price tag. There is a release clause rumored to be in the region of £87m in play, and it’s difficult to see FSG or Klopp sanctioning that kind of expenditure based on a brief, though, impressive, body of work. Things could, of course, change quickly if Sporting are willing to negotiate.