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1st Mar, 2017 | 5:14pm

Liverpool in three-horse PL race to sign Ligue 1 stopper after scouting mission - reliable journalist

By Will Butcher

Liverpool could be set to rival West Ham and Everton in luring St. Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to Anfield, according to a report.

Yahoo Sport journalist Manu Lonjon claimed on his personal Twitter account that the Premier League trio have been scouting the 30-year-old goalkeeper in recent weeks.

Three-time France international Ruffier has been in wonderful form for Les Verts this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in 30 league and cup encounters.

Jurgen Klopp’s Merseyside giants are likely to be in the market for a new goalkeeper in the summer, as critics continue to scrutinise the performances of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.

However, West Ham are set to lose Spaniard Adrian with his contract finishing at the end of the season, while Everton will be looking to replace injury-prone stopper Maarten Stekelenburg.

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Known for his shot-stopping ability, Ruffier is widely considered as one of the best goalkeepers in French football and is rivalling the likes of Steve Mandanda and Benoit Costil to be Hugo Lloris’ France back-up.

However, with a contract until the summer of 2021 and plenty of years ahead of him, it remains to be seen how much St. Etienne will charge for their number 16.

Football Insider verdict:

There is no doubt, whatsover, that Liverpool must buy a new goalkeeper in the summer. Belgium international Mignolet has finally begun to provide consistency in between the sticks, but has kept just six clean sheets all season. His understudy, Karius, has already proved that he has lots to learn if he is to be successful in the Premier League after a number of high-profile mistakes including clangers against Bournemouth and West Ham. Bringing in a goalkeeper of Ruffier’s experience, who has made 323 top-tier appearances in Ligue 1, would finally end Klopp’s dilemma in goal. The Frenchman would also bring the best out of Liverpool’s defence, as he is known for his communication on the pitch.

In other Liverpool transfer news, the Merseyside giants have also identified this Guinea international to provide the missing spark in midfield.

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