Liverpool scouts were reportedly in attendance at Sporting CP’s game on Sunday, with midfielder Manuel Ugarte linked with a potential move to Anfield. According to reliable Twitter user @scoutsattending, both Liverpool and Newcastle representatives watched the clash between Sporting CP and Famalicao, with Ugarte and centre-back Goncalo Inacio believed to be their intended targets. Reports from CNN Portugal, O Jogo and A Bola over the weekend have suggested that Liverpool have made contact with Sporting regarding a deal for Ugarte, with the 22-year-old defensive midfielder expected to depart Lisbon this summer, with Sporting holding out for his release clause of €60 million (£52.7m). Uruguayan journalist Brahian Kuchman has since corroborated these reports, writing on Twitter that “the information is real” and “there is interest”.
Ugarte played 73 minutes of Sunday’s 2-1 victory over former club Famalicao, being withdrawn in the second half having picked up a yellow card. He operated as part of a two-man central unit in a 3-4-3 formation, with Inacio in the middle of a trio of centre-backs. Goals from Hidemasa Morita and Ricardo Esgaio gave Sporting a two-goal lead, only for ex-Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates’ own goal to give Famalicao hope in the second half.
Speaking to A Bola after his side’s win, manager Ruben Amorim acknowledged potential interest in Monaco midfielder Jean Lucas, while joking that he “saw in a newspaper that Ugarte is already sold.” He added that Dani Braganca is “coming back” after a long-term injury and that teenager Dario Essugo “needs more space,” hinting that a succession plan is already in place. Liverpool are interested in a range of midfielders ahead of a summer transfer window that will see at least two brought in and four leave. Mason Mount and Ryan Gravenberch have been heavily linked of late, along with the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo, Joao Palhinha, Khephran Thuram, Matheus Nunes, Conor Gallagher and Alex Scott. Few are of the mould of Ugarte, though, who is adept in the No. 6 role, with interest in him, Caicedo and Palhinha suggesting competition is being sought for Fabinho.