Riccardo Calafiori could change transfer plan and Liverpool have inside man to make it happen

Riccardo Calafiori of Italy looks on as he inspects the pitch with teammates prior to the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Spain and Italy at Arena AufSchalke
-Credit: (Image: Claudio Villa/Getty Images for FIGC)

Riccardo Calafiori has been the name on many Liverpool supporters’ lips as he continues to impress at Euro 2024.

The Bologna defender caught the eye in Italy’s opening win over Albania, and impressed again against Spain - even if it was his inadvertent own goal that proved decisive in a 1-0 loss.

Consequently, excitement ensued when the Athletic reported that the Reds had enquired about the Italy international, becoming the latest in a long list of centre-backs to be linked with a move to Anfield this summer. After all, he would tick certain Liverpool boxes.

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When the Reds were initially in the market for a new centre-back last summer, before deciding Jarell Quansah would suffice after having to re-prioritise their midfield revamp, a young, left-sided defender was the target of choice.

Calafiori is exactly that, with the 22-year-old left-footer capable of playing at centre-back or left-back. Good on the ball and in the air, he is a quick, modern defender with an exquisite passing range too, who would not look out of place in a Liverpool backline.

However, it’s understood that Reds bosses don’t actually see a new centre-back as an immediate priority at present, in contrast to last summer’s initial stance. While Liverpool are interested in signing Leny Yoro from Lille, that pursuit is seen as separate to the rest of their expected business.

Therefore other areas of the squad are deemed in greater need of immediate reinforcement. But should Liverpool miss out on Yoro and revisit their need for a centre-back later this summer, it would be no surprise if Calafiori’s named cropped up.

While many supporters might be suffering from ‘tournament fever’ when it comes to the Italian, Liverpool will have been well-aware of his talents long before Euro 2024, have been credited as scouting him in the past. And not just because he was one of Bologna's standout players this season as he helped them qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1964/65.

As a result, they won't rush to move for the defender just off the back of an impressive international tournament as both interest in his services and his asking-price inevitably increases. Their well of knowledge runs deeper.

In new sporting director Richard Hughes, the Reds boast a most informed mind when it comes to assessing Serie A football.

Hughes is a former Scotland international but actually grew up in Italy, spending seven years in Atalanta’s youth academy before moving to Arsenal in 1993. His fascination with Serie A would continue long after his move to England.

His love for Italian football led to many discussions with Michael Edwards regarding the likes of Alisson Becker and Mohamed Salah long before their own moves to Liverpool. As a result, it is safe to say he is well-schooled on exactly who to keep an eye on Italy.

Hughes has reportedly actually been interested in Calafiori before, with the Italian on his radar as a potential AFC Bournemouth signing while still plying his trade with AS Roma. For the record, the Scot did sign Justin Kluivert and Matias Vina from the Serie A outfit for the Cherries over the past 18 months, even if the Italian did not end up at the Vitality Stadium, and instead signing for Basel in August 2022 before moving onto Bologna 12 months later.

Having already done their research, both Liverpool and Hughes will know what they need to know about Calafiori. Consequently, if the Reds don’t move for the Italian, sticking to their ‘not an immediate priority’ stance, it won’t be a case of missing out.

Well-placed to judge the 22-year-old’s credentials, they will already know if they consider him capable of playing for Liverpool in the future. And if he’s a player they intend to circle if they cast their net out wider when it comes to next recruiting a new centre-back.

As a result, while currently eyeing Yoro, Reds bosses will have already decided if Calafiori is on their transfer longlist or not this summer after plenty of homework behind the scenes. If suitably impressed, perhaps he could change Liverpool's current centre-back transfer stance beyond the young Frenchman - but that currently remains a big if.