Liverpool have gazumped Tottenham Hotspur’s pursuit of Porto’s Luis Diaz by agreeing an initial £37.5 million deal, and are now engaged in a frantic effort to complete the signing before the transfer deadline.
An agreement has been reached with Porto and the player. However, there is still progress to be made to get the signing across the line. The situation is complicated because Diaz is currently on international duty with Colombia and is playing against Peru in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night.
Liverpool have sent representatives to South America to finalise the contract and oversee a medical. Assistant sporting director Julian Ward, who replaces Michael Edwards as sporting director this summer, is leading negotiations. Colombia play Argentina on Tuesday, so the Merseyside club are trying to navigate through the logistics before Monday’s deadline.
Earlier in the window, Liverpool dismissed suggestions they would bid for Diaz because they thought a £60m valuation was prohibitive.
The situation changed after Porto significantly reduced their asking price during discussions with Spurs. Diaz will now have the chance to work with Jurgen Klopp and is understood to want the Anfield move.
Klopp will welcome more firepower given his reliance on Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota to find the goals.
A successful pursuit of Diaz would also suggest fringe players such as Divock Origi and Taki Minamino are on the move.
On Thursday, Liverpool rejected initial approaches from Leeds United and Monaco for their Japan international Minamino. That could change if Diaz is on board. Klopp was minded to keep Minamino for the rest of this campaign with Liverpool still competing on four fronts.
Minamino has featured most prominently in the domestic cup competitions. Liverpool reached the Carabao Cup final and play Cardiff in the FA Cup next weekend. Mane and Salah will still be absent if they are still involved in Africa Cup of Nations duty.
The addition of Diaz would change the dynamic, also freeing up the possibility of Origi departing before Monday. A host of Premier League clubs are in need of a striker.
For Spurs manager Antonio Conte, losing Diaz to Liverpool would be the latest transfer setback. On Thursday it emerged that another of his targets, Wolves’ Adama Traore, wants to join Barcelona instead.
Why are Liverpool and Spurs battling for Diaz?
There is nothing quite like an old-fashioned transfer hijack to quicken the pulse. That is what Liverpool are trying to execute over the next 48 hours.
Earlier in this transfer window any move for Porto’s Luis Diaz was not only denied, it was suggested he was not even an active target in January.
The reason for that was his fee – at that time thought to be £60m. The club would revisit in the summer if he was available and cheaper. But then Tottenham came along and helpfully reduced the initial asking price to £37.5m. Liverpool have made it known that would be more acceptable.
Diaz, it would seem as of Friday morning, is more inclined to play in the Champions League at Anfield and help Klopp’s bid to narrow Manchester City’s Premier League lead.
There should be caution before imagining Diaz holding aloft a red scarf alongside a beaming Klopp, however. The winger is currently on international duty with Colombia, preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina. Given the logistics, Liverpool insist it is far from a formality the paperwork and medical will be done before Monday’s deadline.
That said, what would Liverpool be getting if their late move is successful? Another dynamic wide attacker with an eye for goal, supplementing the firepower of Salah, Mane and Jota.
After moderate goalscoring returns earlier in his career, Diaz appears to have extra ammunition in his boots over the last 12 months. He has 14 goals in 18 league appearances for Porto this season, playing ostensibly as a winger.