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Rumour Mongering: Liverpool, United, and Chelsea Chase £45M Portuguese Talent

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Liverpool were meant to trigger Yacine Brahimi’s £45M release clause last week. This week, A Bola think it’s Joao Mario’s £45M release clause they’ll be triggering. Unless Chelsea or United do it first.

Sporting CP v CSKA Moscow - UEFA Champions League: Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Last time we checked in with Portugal’s A Bola, they were certain that Liverpool were ready, willing, and able to trigger Yacine Brahimi’s £45M release clause after their attempts to land Mario Götze appeared to have fallen through. That never quite came off.

Instead, journalists with ties to the Reds insisted the club were looking at Southampton’s Sadio Mane as a Götze substitute. Given Mane’s similarities to Götze when it comes to age and per minute return if not style, it was a proposed move that made a lot more sense than the older and less impactful Brahimi.

Now, A Bola are having another crack at the transfer rumour game, claiming Liverpool are going to try to beat Manchester United and Chelsea to Sporting Club’s versatile midfielder Joao Mario. Again the failure to land Götze is cited, but this time too the stalled deal to bring in Piotr Zielinski.

The 22-year-old, who has nine senior caps for Portugal and is in the squad for this summer’s Euros, does have some positional overlap with the two players, having spent time both in central and attacking midfield and out on the right wing. He’s most comfortable, though, as a midfielder.

As such, if Liverpool are interested in Sporting Club’s rising star, he might be best thought of as an option to Zielinski—or Mahmoud Dahoud, who Liverpool have also been linked to—rather than to Götze. Like fellow Liga star Brahimi, Joao Mario is reported to have a £45M buyout clause.

Also like Brahimi, the player’s club are, according to Portuguese reports, not looking to sell which—if one was being cynical and based on the source of both rumours—could be read as both clubs desperately looking to cell. United were previously reported to be willing to trigger his release only for nothing to happen.

At the very least, one should cast a skeptical eye on these latest reports given A Bola’s recent track record claiming English clubs are prepared to trigger the release clauses of Liga stars. United were willing to trigger Joao Mario’s, then Liverpool were willing to trigger Brahimi’s. Now it’s Liverpool and Joao Mario.

None of which is to say the player isn’t talented, because with a goal involvement every 160 minutes in league play last season, Joao Mario is rightfully considered one of his country’s brightest young talents. But he’s not worth £45M and there’s nothing beyond dubious A Bola reports to go off so far.