Liverpool are closing in on long-term target Cristian Tello of Barcelona, according to reports in Spain.
With Liverpool enduring a mini-slump in the Premier League that has seen them fall from first to fifth, manager Brendan Rodgers is set to bring in the Barca winger to boost his attacking options, Madrid-based daily newspaper Marca reports.
The 22-year-old has been linked with a move to Anfield on several occasions, but signed a new contract with the Blaugrana in August, including an increased £22m release clause. He said at the time: “I always wanted to stay here. The coach has confidence in me, I’m happy and ready to play. I knew that Liverpool were interested in me, but I never thought about leaving.”
But Tello has faced tough competition for playing time from the likes of Pedro and Alexis Sanchez, and his prospects have worsened under new manager Gerardo Martino, with just three starts this season.
And earlier this month he put Rodgers on red alert by suggesting he would be open to a move if his frustrations at the Nou Camp continued. He said: “I’m young, I want to play and enjoy. If it is not possible at the club, I will consider the outcome at the end of the season.”
But the Liverpool manager is ready to swoop now, reports Marca, by offering Tello a loan deal to the end of the season, with a view to making the move permanent in the summer.
Tello, a full Spain international, is comfortable on both wings, and with 10 goals in 47 appearances for the La Liga champions it is hoped he will offer a more direct threat than Victor Moses and Raheem Sterling.