Who is Liverpool FC target Manuel Ugarte?

LISBON, PORTUGAL - APRIL 1: Manuel Ugarte of Sporting CP in action during the Liga Bwin match between Sporting CP and CD Santa Clara at Estadio Jose Alvalade on April 1, 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL - APRIL 1: Manuel Ugarte of Sporting CP in action during the Liga Bwin match between Sporting CP and CD Santa Clara at Estadio Jose Alvalade on April 1, 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images) /

I am usually the most optimistic of optimistic Liverpool fans, but watching our second half capitulation against Manchester City at the weekend was hard to stomach. We chased shadows, were toyed with, embarrassed and mentally the players look spent. The unity that saw us be so consistent for so long has gone and it is now glaringly obvious to anyone with eyes that something needs to change and change soon.

With so many of the squad off the pace it seems the transfer market is the obvious starting point. However, putting the words Liverpool FC and transfers together is enough to give anyone a headache. The online arguments about owner investment, who we should sign, who we shouldn’t and who should be sold are never ending and quite literally mind numbing. But the truth is, we need reinforcements. Whether you thought it should have been done last summer or this January, there is now no escaping the fact that new faces are essential if Liverpool are to turn from a season of decline and disappointment back to title contenders. But who should we get? Who out there will fit in to the sustainable FSG plan while improving Jurgen Klopp’s first team options?

One player that jumped out at me from the list of hundreds of potential signings being named for Klopp’s summer rebuild is that of Uruguayan international, Manuel Ugarte. It was was a name that I had honestly never heard of before the Twitter transfer rumour mill claimed he was the perfect replacement for Fabinho in the heart of the midfield. And it was one that I initially brushed off as another body from Portugal being hyped up by an agent looking to increase interest in a player, or by certain ITK Twitter accounts that like to pretend they know football. However, with the summer transfer window edging ever closer and Jurgen Klopp confirming that money will be spent and that player negotiations are already taking place, the demand to sign Manuel Ugarte seems to be growing by the day. And after scrolling through his extensive highlight collection, watching replays of him playing for Sporting Lisbon and reading interviews from the man himself I have to admit I am fully aboard the Manuel Ugarte hype train.

Will FSG Saction a move for Manuel Ugarte in the summer? Owner John Henry looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City at Anfield on August 09, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /

Having made his professional debut at the age of 15 years and 233 days Ugarte would go on to become the captain of Uruguayan club, Fenix just three years later. It was during this time that he was given the nickname the Jr Piston for his a ability to drive his team forward from the centre of the field at such a young age. The talent was there, but there was also an inner drive and belief that he could do even more. It was this along with raw self discipline that saw him hire a personal trainer for his days off and attend night school to study economics all of  which would see him selected for the Uruguayan youth national team.

A move to abroad was inevitable for the young midfielder and on December 29th 2020 it was Portuguese club Famalicao that took the calculated risk, paying just 3 million Euro for his services. It was during this short stint that the rest of Europe began to take note. Playing as a six Ugarte showed intelligence and an innate instinct to sniff out danger and quickly shut it down, which is an essential quality in the high pressing, high octane midfield that Jurgen Klopp generally prefers. But it’s his ability on the ball that surprised me the most. Having played as a striker for much of his junior career Ugarte is supremely skilful in tight spaces and has the eye and the ability to break the lines with pace and decisiveness. This combination of forward vision and defensive intuition along with a rumoured release clause of just 5o million Euro have seen him jump to the top my wish list for Liverpool FC incomings this summer ahead of Mason Mount.

Unlike many fans I welcomed the idea of Mount heading to Anfield. But after watching extensive footage of Manuel Ugarte and with Mount’s price seemingly rising by the day the decision for Klopp and Co should  be a no brainer. We need to gain control of football matches again. We need a six with more quality, better legs and a eagerness to work. And with the potential Bellingham deal still on I think him alongside the 21 year old Uruguayan makes far more sense long term and would have far more impact on the team as we look to rebuild for next season.