Liverpool are ready to admit defeat in their bid to sign Brazilian playmaker Willian amid interest from Manchester United and Spurs and instead turn their attention to his international compatriot Leandro Damiao, according to the Daily Mirror.
Manchester United and Tottenham have now emerged as the front-runners for Willian after Liverpool initially looked to be in the driving seat.
United in particular are desperate for good news in the transfer market and a cut-price deal for want-away Willian could be the welcome boost David Moyes’ is after following failed pursuits of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara.
Brendan Rodgers remains hopeful Liverpool can convince Luis Suarez to stay despite interest from Arsenal, but the Anfield club are putting a contingency plan in place should the Uruguayan force through a move.
Brazil international Damiao, a one-time target for Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs, has been identified as the man to replace Suarez. The Internacional forward is keen to test himself in Europe before hopefully leading the line for his country on home soil at the World Cup next summer.
The Reds fear United’s hijacking of the Willian deal will see the club miss out on another top target, following failed efforts to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who has joined Borussia Dortmund - and Diego Costa – who has signed a new Atletico Madrid contract.
With cash from the sale of Suarez, Liverpool would hope to make a big splash in the transfer market before the September 2 deadline.
24-year-old Damiao would be an achievable target, and possesses the necessary pedigree and track record to potentially become a hit on Merseyside.
United and Spurs both may wait and see what happens with their own unsettled forwards – Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney – before pulling the trigger on the Willian deal.