Villarreal’s 21-year-old striker Luciano Vietto has been linked with a Liverpool move since last summer, when he was still playing for Racing Club in Argentina. Since then, he’s gone from impressing in a weaker league to establishing himself as one of the hottest young prospects in Europe and left many Liverpool fans wondering what if the club had pulled the trigger on him last summer.
Not only has he looked one of Europe’s best young strikers—his 20 goals and eight assists in 40 games, with a goal every 120 minutes and an 18% strike rate, certainly make for an impressive return—he’s also looked a striker perfectly suited to Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side. When it comes to movement, work-rate, and link-up play, Vietto excels. He would also, due to a rumoured £14M buyout clause, come relatively cheap.
Spanish tax laws that can add 50% to a buyout if a club is forced to sell and that his agent still owns a portion of the player’s rights could complicate things, but there’s a bargain to be had if all parties can come to an amicable agreement, and Vietto has recently hinted he would be open to a move to Anfield. Now, rumour in Spain has the Reds going for not just Vietto this summer, but also sourcing a Glen Johnson replacement from Villarreal.
Inside Spanish Football are reporting that Liverpool’s scouts haven’t just been watching Vietto at Villarreal matches, they’ve also been keeping tabs on 24-year-old right back Mario Gaspar, a strong two-way player on the flank and a potential replacement for the departing Johnson. It's also rumoured Gaspar could be had for around £6-8M, and at that price, the technically slick, defensively sound right back would make for a smart purchase.
Gaspar is a right back with a well rounded game. He won’t burn too many opponents with pure pace going forward, but he’s fast enough and smart enough that he won’t get burned often in his own end. And while crossing has never been his game, it’s never particularly been Brendan Rodgers’, either, and Gaspar’s strengths as a build-up and support player would make him an exceptionally solid if not massively exciting addition to the squad.