Liverpool edge ahead of Chelsea in race to sign 22-year-old: Reports

  /  autty

Reports in Spain indicate that Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea are among the clubs pursuing a 22-year-old Barcelona central defender.

Liverpool have been running riot this season. They are now buoyed by depth in the defensive department that they lacked last season after 80% of their backline was decimated by injuries.

Nevertheless, Marca reports Liverpool want to add more center backs to their squad. They have opened talks with Ronald Araujo to move ahead of Chelsea as the favorites to sign the defender.

The 6ft 2in Uruguayan has made eight starts and six substitute appearances in the current campaign, impressing whenever he's deputized for Gerard Pique or Eric Garcia.

Comparisons to Carles Puyol and 21-year-old former La Masia product, Jean-Clair Todibo, have prompted the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool to take notice.

In London, Chelsea are tussling with looming uncertainty as Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, and Cesar Azpilicueta are all about to run out of contract.

The Christensen and Rudiger situation could potentially turn catastrophic. Both have declined to sign contract extensions placed before them and might leave for free in the summer.

Christensen is reported to have recanted a summer pledge to sign a five-year extension, while Rudiger, who's on £100,000 ($132,320)-a-week, will not take anything less than the £200,000 ($264,650) that Bayern are believed to be enticing him with.

Chelsea are known to be ruthless in their transfer dealings and apparently their players have received the memo: you are only as good as what you can offer.

Christensen and Rudiger's entourages are determined to squeeze as much as they can from Ibrahimovic's minders, Marina Granovskaia and Eugene Tenenbaum.

Is Ronald Araujo a priority for Liverpool and Chelsea?

The Londoners would be expected to be more industrious in search of defensive cover but they've not shown any sort of urgency on that front. It's left the door wide open for Liverpool to get their man.

Although the Blues are confident they'll come to an agreement with at least two of the four defenders, they will be further reassured when they look at their academy.

In recent years, Chelsea have promoted Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah and Victor Moses into first team duties and could look to their loan army once more for fresh blood.

After spending last season on loan, Malang Sarr is now among Chelsea's subs. Matt Miazga, on loan at Alaves, could be given a lifeline. Meanwhile, young centrebacks Ethan Ampadu and Jake Clarke-Salter have shown they can step up into the first team.

Chelsea have also been linked to Sevilla's Jules Kounde. It's only the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah that has stopped the club from recruiting the Frenchman.

They have done extensive work on Kounde and might therefore prioritize his signature over Araujo. The Sevilla defender is also the more experienced of the two and could be slotted straight into the lineup should the need arise.

For their part, Liverpool are still looking for the perfect Virgil van Dijk partner. Granted, the former Southampton defender is in a class of his own but of all Liverpool defenders, only Joel Matip has matched Van Dijk's graft.

But Matip is now 30 and more prone to injury.

Liverpool's academy is inferior to that of their London rivals and the Reds are aware they are just a few injuries away from dropping out of the title race. They will be hoping to find a solid addition to the defense while also looking into the future.

It is understood Barcelona could be willing to let Araujo leave as early as January to seek respite from their well-documented financial woes.

Related: Chelsea Liverpool Barcelona Matip Rudiger Christensen Ronald Araujo
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