On the final day of the January transfer window, Liverpool pulled off a huge coup as they sealed the signing of Porto attacker Luis Díaz.
In doing so, they beat Tottenham to his signature after the North London side looked destined to sign him.
The 25-year-old has been one of the stars of the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season, lighting up the division with 14 goals in 18 matches.
He has been dubbed as the hottest talent in Portugal according to experts, having dominated various skill categories, such as completing the most touches in the opposition box with 162, alongside being the league’s top scorer.
Díaz came second in possessions won in the attacking third.
As well as being the third highest player in dribbles completed.
Interestingly, he also featured against Liverpool twice in the UEFA Champions League group stages.
Firstly, in September as Liverpool thumped Porto 5-1 at the Estádio do Dragão and then again in a 2-0 defeat at Anfield in the reverse fixture in November.
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But boss Jurgen Klopp, similarly to when Takumi Minamino impressed in the same competition against his side, saw enough to accelerate his plans to land the Colombia international.
The intention was to make Díaz the prime summer signing, but Spurs’ advances brought forward the deal.
Liverpool’s incoming Sporting Director, Julian Ward, took the reigns of the negotiations, flying out specially to Argentina to conclude the deal.
The club’s medical staff were also on hand to deliver a medical so Díaz would be registered just in time, with the clock ticking back in England, as the January transfer window was hours away from slamming shut.
At £37 million, rising to £49 million with potential bonuses, it is one of Liverpool’s most expensive signings but represents a good deal for Liverpool both financially, as well as on the pitch.
After three years at Porto, Díaz departs for Anfield with a modest 41 goals in 125 appearances.
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He will wear the number 23 shirt, famous with Reds fans for being former vice-captain Jamie Carragher’s famous number for over a decade.
It was also worn more recently by Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri during his three-year stay at the club.
Another fun fact, is that Díaz was the joint top scorer with Lionel Messi, eventual winner’s Argentina’s star man, with four goals.
In 31 appearances to date, the attacker has scored seven goals for his country.
Praise from Klopp
Liverpool boss Klopp appeared ecstatic at landing one of his top transfer targets.
“I couldn’t be happier that we’ve been able to get this deal done and bring Luis to Liverpool.
“He’s an outstanding player and someone we’ve been tracking for a very long time,” said the German.
“I have always been a believer in only signing players in January if you want to sign them in the summer, and that’s very much the case with Luis.
“We believe he has everything needed to fit our way of playing and adapt to the Premier League, both physically and mentally.
“He’s a player hungry for success and knows you have to fight to get it.
“Luis is a fighter and a skilful player who always has his mind on the goal,” Klopp said.
The boss also reflected on having faced his new player’s old side earlier in the season, praising them and his own club for conducting such successful negotiations.
“This team deserved to add quality, and when we played against Luis earlier this season, we saw what a danger he is, how fast he is and how his mentality was to help his team,” said the Liverpool manager.
“We know Porto is an outstanding club, who nurture their players in the best possible way, and provide a brilliant football education for their players.
“They are a class club and, I have to say, also tough negotiators.
“I must also make clear my appreciation to our ownership and football operations team for how they have managed to act so decisively to get this deal completed.”
Reds miss out on Carvalho
With their eyes firmly on the future, the club narrowly missed out on signing teenage star Fabio Carvalho from Championship pace-setters Fulham.
Valued at £5 million, the 19-year-old was all set to join the Anfield giants but the deal collapsed and was unable to go through before the deadline.
The plan was for the youngster to sign for the former Premier League champions, and return to Craven Cottage for the remainder of the season.
Instead, he will stay with the West-London team until the summer, before Liverpool will likely return to the table and complete the deal before their rivals pounce.
Analysis – Building for the future
It’s clear that Klopp and Liverpool want to build a team capable of challenging for the Premiership title and the Champions League in the years to come.
We are talking about the mid to late 20’s of this decade, being 2024-2028.
This is because club legend’s Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have either just turned 30 or are turning that age at the end of this year.
They clearly cannot go on forever.
And neither can they keep on playing with such consistency year in, year out for however many seasons.
So, investing in Díaz, and potentially England under-21 star, Carvalho, in a similar move that brought Harvey Elliot to the club two and half years ago, is a sign that Liverpool are creating a new attacking force.
Almost like building a Lego set, or the construction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it will be interesting to see how Díaz and a host of new blood fare as Liverpool look to the future.