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12th Jan, 2017 | 11:07am

Liverpool to lodge £8.7m bid for enforcer - reliable journalist

By Will Butcher

Liverpool are preparing an £8.7million offer for Juventus teenager Francesco Cassata following his excellent displays during a loan spell, according to a report.

Transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio claimed on his website that the Reds are to make a formal move for the versatile Juventus star, 19, who is currently on loan at Serie B side Ascoli.

Able to play in a number of positions, the three-time Italy Under-20s international has caught Jurgen Klopp’s eye by playing on both wings, right-back and in central midfield.

With his preferred position the midfield enforcer role, the Juventus academy product could be brought to Anfield as a long-term replacement for Lucas Leiva.

Telegraph journalist Jason Burt told BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday that he believes the Brazil international will join Euro giants Inter Milan this month.

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Making 19 appearances this season for Ascoli, Cassata has scored once and provided two assists for his loan side while playing a crucial part in helping his side keep seven clean sheets.

Cassata is yet to make a senior appearance for Juventus, but his stock is growing higher as he continues to sparkle at Ascoli.

Football Insider verdict:

Without doubt, Cassata is one of the hottest teenagers in European football right now. At less than £10million, the midfielder is a bargain for the Merseyside giants and Klopp should open the Reds’ cheque book as soon as he can before other clubs become interested. With his contract set to end in 2018, Cassata could be allowed to leave Juve to join Liverpool as Massimiliano Allegri looks to avoid losing his young star on a free transfer in a year’s time. His arrival at Anfield would almost certainly spell the end for Lucas, who turned 30 on Monday and is expected to be offloaded in the near future with his contract up at the end of the season.

In other Liverpool transfer news, this left-back has been recalled by Klopp to provide cover on the left side of defence.