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Inside Liverpool’s shock Luis Diaz transfer as summer plans forced to change – Paul Gorst


Sometimes, timing is everything in football.

Even for a club like Liverpool, who pride themselves on forensic, long-term planning, a sudden change in strategy is occasionally enforced.

The move for Porto’s Luis Diaz reveals as much.

Jurgen Klopp is not a huge fan of the winter window and a cursory glance at his January dealings across his time as manager prove as much.

Virgil van Dijk aside, the club have rarely made significant splashes in the market midway through the campaign.

Takumi Minamino was an opportunistic deal once information about his £7.25million release clause at Red Bull Salzburg had been gleaned by sporting director Michael Edwards two years ago, while Marko Grujic was loaned back to Red Star Belgrade in 2016.

Steven Caulker, Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were all short-term, cut-price options to help out a defence that had reached breaking point.

READ MORE: What Luis Diaz transfer means for Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi at Liverpool

READ MORE : Liverpool make £49m Luis Diaz transfer bid after hijacking Tottenham Hotspur move for Porto star

TACTICAL LOOK: Why Liverpool want Luis Diaz to be their new £49m transfer signing

So the £37m deal for Colombian international Diaz is a break from tradition if we park the very obvious Van Dijk caveat for now.

The reason for that was the sudden emergence of Tottenham’s interest this week.

With Antonio Conte keen to get arrivals through the door in north London to aid a push for a top-four place, Klopp and his recruitment team have essentially had their hand forced.

Diaz, it is understood, had been earmarked for a summer move, but Spurs and Manchester United’s interest accelerated the best laid plans at Anfield.

Liverpool had initially intended to keep their powder dry, a fact that is backed up by the late attempt to bring the 25-year-old winger to the club after spending most of the month without Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to choose from.

Had Diaz always been a winter target, one suspects the club would not have been dispatching a delegation to Argentina for a late medical as the window enters its final hours.

It would also be fair to suggest Klopp would not have been made to operate without Divock Origi, Mane and Salah for a domestic cup semi-final and two big Premier League games had the intention to bring Diaz in this month been the case all along.

Sources in Colombia believe Diaz’s potential move to Anfield would represent the second biggest transfer deal in the country’s history behind only James Rodriguez’s 2014 switch to Real Madrid.

That, then, will only see Liverpool’s standing grow considerably in an area of the world that is dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is something that will be viewed as a welcome by-product.

Once the player’s entourage was informed of Liverpool’s concrete interest this week, the attacker’s mind was made up, sources close to the player have confirmed.

Diaz, who was joint top scorer at last summer’s Copa America alongside a certain Lionel Messi, has been in sensational form for Porto this season.

Sixteen goals and a half-dozen assists in 28 appearances for the Portuguese giants are proof that Diaz has pushed on from where he left off with Los Cafeteros in the summer.

His potential arrival will be another big fillip to a squad that is already welcoming back Mane, Salah and Naby Keita imminently from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Anfield sources have stressed that the late move for Diaz and the logistical reality of sending out a team to conduct his medical in South America, where the wide-man is on international duty, make this a deal still fraught with problems.

Liverpool will not have anticipated such problems getting this deal completed had Diaz been in Portugal this weekend.

As a result, it is a transfer that is by no means cut and dry, even if it would appear as though Spurs and United have been fended off and Diaz has his heart set on lining up alongside the likes of Mane, Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.

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It is understood the Colombian’s potential signature is also not dependent on anyone leaving the club, something which will be seen as a positive with regards to the speculation over Salah’s unsigned contract.

Liverpool will only listen to big-money offers Takumi Minamino and Origi before Monday’s 11pm deadline, meaning Klopp may have a huge depth of talent at his disposal up top when football returns in early February.

There is, though, the reality that the Diaz deal has been brought forward six months, meaning the transfer kitty will be less sizable than initially hoped in the summer months.

The Porto star’s eventual fee could reach as much as £50m in total, although the £12m in add-ons will mean Diaz has been a spectacular success if it is to be paid in full.

Despite having a long-term strategy in place for this squad’s development, Liverpool have been made to prove that they can be flexible when the time calls for it.

Because timing in football, as they say, is everything.





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