Juan Román Riquelme has already labeled $75m star a 'phenomenon' amid Liverpool transfer links

Alan Varela is being linked with a move to Liverpool.
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Gualter Fatia)

Liverpool bought four midfielders last summer as the club looked to revolutionize the middle of the pitch in the aftermath of a majorly disappointing 2022/23 campaign. Five players — James Milner, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — all departed and were replaced by Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endō.

Yet it's possible that another midfielder could be bought this summer, as the club arguably still hasn't replaced Fabinho in the long-term despite the presence of Endō. The Japan international surpassed all expectations in his first season at Anfield, but at 31, he can only be a stop-gap solution.

The club needs a long-term Fabinho replacement, and recent links have suggested a move for FC Porto midfielder Alan Varela. Varela, formerly of Boca Juniors, has only been in Europe for a season. He signed from Boca a year ago but impressed in his debut campaign in the European game, and this has led to speculation that Liverpool could sign him this summer.

READ MORE: Liverpool could sign ideal player for Arne Slot as 'contact made' amid $109m release clause
READ MORE: Three things that happened on Arne Slot's first day as Liverpool man requests transfer

AS journalist Eduardo Burgos posted on X recently that Liverpool had 'intensified' contacts with Porto for the 22-year-old, with the Portuguese side looking for his full $75m (£60m/€70m) release clause to be paid before letting go of the Argentine.

Though the ECHO reports that Liverpool sources have played down the links, suggesting that they come from the South American's agent, Varela has the seal of approval from Boca and Argentina legend Juan Roman Riquelme, who raved about the midfielder in a recent interview with Argentine broadcaster TyC Sports.

“If he’s bought by another club, he’s welcome, because he’s a phenomenon as a person and he does everything that a footballer should do,” Riquelme, who knew a thing or two about controlling the midfield and is now president of Boca, said. “He played more than 100 games, won five titles and went to a league where he has time to continue growing. It’s a phenomenon. God willing that tomorrow he moves to a great club and it would make us very happy because he deserves it.”

Porto is historically a difficult club to deal with as relating to transfers. However, Liverpool has a good relationship with the club owing to the Luis Díaz deal in January 2022, and so any potential deal for Varela could be done without any major issue.

According to Burgos, Boca also inserted a sell-on clause into the deal, although the percentage is unknown. Varela made 44 appearances for Porto last season, scoring two goals and providing three assists. says: Any seal of approval from Riquelme is worth its weight and Liverpool should be taking a look. Varela at just 22 could be the long-term replacement the Reds need in midfield. Negotiating with Porto is never easy, but a deal should be able to get over the line, considering the relations between the two clubs.