Liverpool are set to battle bitter rivals Manchester United in the race to sign Atletico Madrid defender Jose Maria Gimenez. The Uruguayan has found himself down the pecking order at the Vicente Calderon with manager Diego Simeone preferring to play with the defensive partnership of Stefan Savic and Diego Godin.
It is reported from Spanish outlet AS (h/t Metro) that Gimenez has a release clause in his contract in the range of 38-million and Atletico wouldn’t consider selling him for anything else than that.
Considered as one of the most promising young defenders in Spain, the 22-year old hasn’t played much football this season and has just featured 9 times in La Liga and has started four Champions League games. He also has played 6 Copa Del Rey games, where he has notched up a goal and an assist.
Liverpool have struggled in defence this season. Their weak backline has been the biggest reason for their recent struggles in the Premier League. They brought in Joel Matip in the summer and the Cameroonian has been a solid presence at the back for the Reds, but the position alongside him has often been a bone of contention for them.
Dejan Lovren has been prone to injuries and even when completely fit, he has failed to inspire a great deal of confidence in the backline. And when he isn’t available, Jurgen Klopp has had to rely on another summer addition, Ragnar Klavan, and the defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva. While both are decent players, they have been, on many occasions, beaten for pace and have looked extremely shaky.
A ball playing defender, who can carry the ball out of defence and pick out passes from deep, Gimenez is exactly in the mould of defenders that Klopp likes and the 22-year old will thrive in the system that Liverpool play.
A no-nonsense defender known for his aggressive approach, the Uruguayan will bring in an added tenacity at the back, which has lacked in the Liverpool backline this season. An astute tackler and a good reader of the game, his positional awareness is something that allows him to be on top of the opposition. And if caught out in certain cases, he does possess a decent pace to make up for it.
And throw in the fact that, he can also play as a defensive midfielder or slot in at the right-back position, there are only positives from this deal for the Reds. Also considering that the defender comes in with decent amount of exposure and experience in the Champions League, with one of the best teams in the continental stages in recent years, Liverpool will reap great benefits from the deal.
At 22, the amount of progression and development that Gimenez has shone so far in his career is a really good indicative of the potential that the player has. He could turn out to be the man to plug the holes in the Liverpool backline for years to come and the Reds should do everything in their powers to land him ahead of Manchester United in the summer.