Relentless on their quest to bring Europe’s supply of exciting goalkeeping prospects to the attention of every transfer gossip column cruiser in Britain, Liverpool are now believed to be keeping tabs on Atalanta’s Marco Sportiello.
The 22-year-old is a product of the Bergamo-based outfit’s youth academy and is one of many young net minders Brendan Rodgers is thought to be looking at as he bids to secure a fresh understudy for Simon Mignolet.
Threatened with relegation, Atalanta could be forced to sell the young stopper if they fall through the Serie A trapdoor, though will be able to command a decent price for his services.
In Sportiello, Liverpool, who are 19/20 to beat Blackburn without conceding in the FA Cup quarter finals next, will be getting a dependable keeper whose tender years belie a maturity that has enabled him to displace elder statesmen and become the number one for Edy Reja’s side.
Despite Atalanta’s perilous position, their first-choice onion-bag warden has recorded some respectable figures in Italy this season, which would only stand to improve were he to move to a superior side such as Liverpool.
Six clean sheets have been mustered in 25 outings so far, while he is successful in 98% of his cross-claiming endeavours.
Sportiello averages 1.48 goals conceded per appearance and repels 1.84 efforts before leaking.
His tally of 68 saves means he denies an opponent 2.72 times a match on average, while his tendency to punch is especially low, standing at just 20% of the aerial balls he addressed.
These stats stack up favourably when measured against Mignolet’s numbers.
Obviously the Belgian has a greater tally of clean sheets to his name, but he has only claimed a paltry-by-comparison 87% of the crosses he came for and his 58% punching average means rarely relieves his defenders with a jitter-calming catch.
At 1.62 his mean saves per match metric is lower than that of Sportiello and a 1.83 denials per concession rate is also inferior.
Such numbers suggest Rodgers may have plans to hand the Italian a more senior role in the Reds side, should he fend off interest from Juventus for his signature.