Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool will splash cash to pip Chelsea in Alex Teixeira race

By Mark Bryans

Liverpool are attempting to beat off competition from Chelsea by making a £24.6m offer for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Alex Teixeira.

With Anfield manager Jurgen Klopp lacking faith in £32.5m summer signing Christian Benteke and the German also reluctant to rely on injury-ravaged Daniel Sturridge, the club have now moved to win the race for Teixeira, who has scored 67 goals in 146 league games for Shakhtar during his five years with the Ukrainian club.

Ian Ayre, the Liverpool chief executive, has flown to the United States in an effort to negotiate a deal with Shakhtar, who are competing in the Florida Cup during the club's mid-season break.

Shakhtar, who have been forced to relocate temporarily from Donetsk to Lviv due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, are prepared to sell the Brazilian forward.

But with Chelsea also expressing an interest, the Shakhtar hierarchy have placed a €50m (£38m) valuation on the 26-year-old.

Ayre has travelled to Shakhtar's winter training camp in Orlando in an effort to accelerate a deal for the former Vasco da Gama forward, who would become the fourth Brazilian at Anfield alongside Lucas, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.

However, with Teixeira yet to be capped at senior level by Brazil, Liverpool could face an anxious wait to discover whether the player would be granted a work permit.

Teixeira's performances in the Champions League this season, with four goals in 10 appearances, have convinced Klopp that the player possesses the quality to succeed in the Premier League.

Benteke is currently Liverpool's leading scorer in the Premier League, with just six goals in 19 appearances since arriving from Villa Park.

Firmino, a £29m signing from Hoffenheim, has scored just three league goals, with Sturridge scoring twice, Divock Origi once and Danny Ings two in five games before suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in October.

Klopp, meanwhile, has vowed to be cautious with Jon Flanagan after the full-back returned to action after 18 months on the sidelines with a substitute appearance in Wednesday's 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay victory over Exeter City at Anfield.

Flanagan, a member of England's pre-World Cup squad preparations in 2014, has been out of action with a knee injury, but is now fit to step up his pursuit of first-team football.

"When Flanno came in it was a great moment after this long time," Klopp said. "I haven't had him too often in training until now because we need to be careful with him.

"Since I've been here he was always injured - but never in a bad mood. That's unbelievable. He is a really strong lad.

"We have to see how he feels and take it day by day. But it is one of the best pieces of news we could get that he's back."

Klopp is not yet tempted to thrust some of his potential stars into the Premier League limelight just yet.

"We need to keep them here and work with them because football is not individual - you have to develop individually but also as a team and it is not always important to impress in a one-on-one," he said.

"It is not the right moment to talk about this but in football if you are good enough you need to take the next step.

"Keep them here, work together and then I am sure the way is shorter for them."

On Joao Teixeira and Sheyi Ojo, goalscorers against Exeter, Klopp added: "I like Joao, he is a good footballer but of course players like him need matches.

"Ojo is young. Leave the guys where they are. Everyone who sees him play sees what big skills he has but he has a lot to work on."

Belfast Telegraph


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