Liverpool line up Neto as Valdes bid stalls

EXCLUSIVE: The Reds have been in talks with the former Barcelona goalkeeper for some time but are exploring other options amid concerns over his fitness and hefty wage demands

By David Craddock

Liverpool are weighing up a January bid for Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto as their move Victor Valdes continues to stall, Goal understands.

Valdes is a free agent since leaving Barcelona at the end of last season and, earlier in October, had looked set to join Liverpool on the provision that he could prove his long-term fitness.

The 32-year-old tore knee ligaments at the end of March, ruling him out for around seven months and scuppering a proposed move to Monaco, and there are concerns at Liverpool about the extent of his recovery, as well reservations about his hefty wage demands.

There has been recent talk of a four-day trial at Melwoood for Valdes to prove his fitness, though Reds boss Brendan Rodgers appeared to rule out any interest in an interview with AS published on Monday.

When asked if he would sign another Spanish player this winter, Rodgers simply replied: “No”.

Brazilian shot-stopper Neto is a long-term target of the Merseyside club and has emerged as a potential alternative in recent weeks.

The 25-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season and he is looking for a new deal worth double the €600,000-per-year that he currently earns.

Those demands, less than €25,000-per-week, are considerably less than Valdes’s and would comfortably fit inside Liverpool’s budget, while Neto is also seven years younger than the former Barca man.

“I am not thinking about the renewal,” he told ESPN over the weekend. “I’m just concentrating on my work and being in good form. The club would like me to renew straight away but we haven’t reached an agreement yet. Fiorentina remains my first choice.”

Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas has also been considered as competition for current No.1 Simon Mignolet, but, as with Valdes, Liverpool harbour similar concerns about his value and capability.

Casillas has increasingly come under fire in Spain following his poor performances at the World Cup, and lost his place between the sticks to Manchester United’s David de Gea for their Euro 2016 qualifier in Luxembourg.

His future at Real Madrid also remains in doubt following the arrival of Costa Rican Keylor Navas, as well as rumours of a move for De Gea and summer interest in Chelsea’s Petr Cech.

Liverpool have been in search of a new goalkeeper to provide back-up for Mignolet, who arrived from Sunderland last summer. The Belgian’s form had dipped towards the end of last season and he has attracted criticism at times during the current campaign.