Sunderland target Liverpool outcast Tiago Ilori

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Sunderland are targeting Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori this summer to strengthen their back-four, reports the Sunderland Echo.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers signed Illori from in 2013 for £6 million from Sporting Lisbon however the youngster was immediately sent out on loan to Spanish side Grenada.

After making a number of pre-season appearances for Liverpool last summer, the 22-year-old was once again sent out on loan, this time to French outfit Bordeaux, where he has made 13 appearances in Ligue 1 and scored one goal.

Ilori, who was born in England, is set to return to Anfield once again at the end of the season however reports suggest that Rodgers does not want the centre-back and is willing to sell him.

That news has alerted Sunderland, who sent scouts to watch him for Portugal U21s against Denmark U21s earlier this week.

Reports about Ilori's performance were positive and the Black Cats are rumoured to offer around £7 million for the defender to the Merseyside club.

Stiff Competition

If Ilori does return to Liverpool, he will not find it easy to gain a regular place in Rogers' starting XI.

Martin Skrtel firmly commands the defence playing at the heart of the back four and has been top-class in recent months and produced his best ever form in a Red shirt.

Mamadou Sakho was signed at around the same time as Ilori, however the Frenchman has been significantly more preferred. After a first season of ups and downs, the former PSG man has settled well into the Liverpool team on left-hand side of defence and is growing with confidence as each game passes.

Emre Can too has been superb over the past few months playing in a role that is not his most natural. The 21-year-old flourishes when driving out of the defence with the ball at his feet and always picks a positive pass.

Add that to the £20 million addition of Dejan Lovren who, although has not showed his best form at the five-time European Cup winners, showed his class last term at Southampton and Rodgers has not lost all faith in the Croat just yet.

Liverpool also have Kolo Toure on their books and although he is entering the twilight years of his career, he's shown he can still compete at the top-level - his performance in his side's 1-0 loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League last November was faultless.

Still Hope

Although it may not look good for Ilori, he could still be part of Rodgers' plans however.

After all, Toure is aging and a big-salary offer from the MLS or elsewhere could see the Ivorian leave Liverpool this summer.

With Steven Gerrard leaving for Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season, Rodgers will also be without a midfielder. The natural thing to do would be to push Can into the midfield, leaving a spot in the back-four wide open.

Jordan Ibe spent a length of time out on loan playing for Birmingham City and Derby County however returned to the Liverpool set-up and immediately thrust himself into the starting XI and has become a vital member of the team.

If Illori has impressed Rodgers, he could do similar.

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