Merseyside rivals ready to lock horns in Ranocchia chase

Bragging rights on Merseyside could be considered to lie in the hands of Everton at present, with a 1-1 draw on derby day prior to the recent international break having put the final nail in the coffin of Brendan Rodgers’ reign at Liverpool.

Stalemate at Goodison Park also helped to ensure that the blue half of the city maintained their one point, and three place advantage over the Reds in the Premier League table.

The tables may have turned slightly with the appointment of Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, but he remains untested in English football and will have to go some in order to meet the lofty expectations which have accompanied his appointment.

He is, however, a man with an enviable CV and a positive reputation throughout Europe.

Taking the reins midway through the 2015/16 campaign means he will have to wait to put his own stamp on the squad inherited from Rodgers, but it is expected that he will ask Fenway Sports Group for further funds in the January transfer window.

According to the Express, one of those he will look to entice to Anfield in the New Year is Andrea Ranocchia.

And if he is to tread that path, then he may well be placed into direct competition with arch-rivals lurking on the other side of Stanley Park.

Everton were heavily linked with an approach for Ranocchia over the summer, as reported by the Daily Mail, with doubts cast over the future of John Stones as reigning Premier League champions Chelsea tabled a flurry of big-money bids.

The Toffees were able to rebuff those approaches, but there is a feeling that they remain light in the centre-half position.

Ranocchia would fit the bill, as a proven performer at the highest level and a man seemingly boasting all of the attributes required to be a success in the English top-flight.

A towering presence at the heart of Inter Milan’s defensive unit, the 6ft 5inch defender is strong in the air while being mobile and comfortable in possession on the deck.

It is those qualities which have earned him 20 senior caps for his country, and he will be hoping to help Italy – a side priced around the 16/1 mark within international football betting markets when this article was produced – make a good fist of their Euro 2016 campaign next summer.

It may be that he heads to that tournament on the books of a different employer to those currently paying his wages, with interest in his services likely to mount as the next window approaches and Europe’s leading clubs scramble to address frailties within their squad.

Everton, having clearly monitored the 27-year-old for some time, should be expected to head that queue, but Liverpool may also feel that – with Dejan Lovren struggling to justify his hefty price tag – reinforcements are required at the heart of their defence.

Were they to make an approach, alongside their neighbours, it would be interesting to see not only if Inter are prepared to enter into negotiations – having rediscovered their mojo in Serie A this season – but also how much sway Klopp’s presence at Anfield holds when the Reds go in search of the continent’s top talent.

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