Liverpool close in on Championship defender

Liverpool are set to ease the club's defensive crisis with the £2-million signing of Preston North End centre-back Ben Davies, according to the Independent. The Premier League champions' title defence has been rocked by injuries to centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, while Fabinho - who filled in at the heart of defence - has also recently been ruled out with an injury. Jurgen Klopp will be adding Davies to his depleted squad after beating Burnley and Celtic to the signing of the 25-year-old. Liverpool youngster Sepp van den Berg will head to Preston on loan as part of the deal.
Transfers
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Paper Round's view: At last. It has been blindingly obvious that Liverpool need to sign a centre-back since mid-October when Gomez joined Van Dijk in the injury room. The club have been lucky to have the versatile Fabinho fill in but it is not really enough. Matip is constantly injured and it has left the defending champions with a centre-back partnership of centre-midfielder Jordan Henderson and 19-year-old Rhys Williams. It is hard to know if Davies will be able to adapt to the Premier League as he steps up from the Championship but he is probably better than what they've got available at the moment.
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...and the Reds aren't done just yet

The Star report that Liverpool could sign a second centre-defender on deadline day. The Merseyside club have made a late approach for Marseille centre-back Duje Caleta-Car, who could join Davies as a new defensive signing before the transfer window shuts on Monday night. The Croatia international's transfer to Anfield is said to be dependent on Marseille's ability to find a replacement - which may prove tricky with the clock ticking on deadline day.
Paper Round's view: Why has it taken until deadline for Liverpool to finally make their moves in the transfer market? Injuries to Fabinho and Matip last week were probably the final straw for the defending Premier League champions, but the club should have been in the market for a new defender before this. It might be too little too late for Liverpool and Caleta-Car now... but it's out of the Reds' hands. Jurgen Klopp and co. will be hoping that Marseille are able to find a replacement for the 24-year-old.
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The battle for Maitland-Niles intensifies

Leicester City have stepped up in the chase for Ainsley Maitland-Niles as the Arsenal star continues to push for a move away from north London. The 23-year-old is "desperate" to leave his boyhood club in an attempt to play more first-team football ahead of this summer's European Championship. The Mirror report that Leicester will jump to the front of the queue as the Foxes are willing to negotiate a deal that would be structured as an initial loan turning into a permanent transfer in the summer. Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle are rivalling Leicester in the battle for Maitland-Niles' signature.
Paper Round's view: It seems like Maitland-Niles is very determined to be a part of Gareth Southgate's England squad this summer and you have to respect that. There's a downside to being a versatile player like the 23-year-old. He has been called up to the England squad as a wing-back, but his preferred position is reportedly centre-midfield - where he played throughout his youth. The Mirror state that Southampton want to sign him as a full-back, while Leicester view Maitland-Niles as a midfielder. This will almost certainly impact his final decision - but will Arsenal be willing to sell to a top-six rival?
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Manchester City to sign the 'next Neymar'?

Manchester City are in talks with Brazilian side Fluminense to sign teenage duo Kayky and Metinho, according to the Mail. The Premier League club have tabled an offer worth around £15 million for the pair, but the Brazilians are holding out for a higher fee. Kayky has been compared to Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar and has attracted attention from Shakhtar Donetsk, but the Ukrainian club's bid was exceeded by Manchester City's offer. City are set to return with an improved bid for the pair and have already sounded out a loan move for Metinho to Ligue 2 side Troyes - an affiliate club of the City Football Group.
Paper Round's view: Being the 'next Neymar' attracts a lot of attention, but also puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Kayky might be a top prospect, but it might take some time to settle in new surroundings - especially when you compare Manchester to Brazil. It's a huge risk signing a youngster straight from South America, but no club wants to miss out on a talent that could be the 'next Neymar' so you would think that Manchester City will return with a bid that meets Fluminense's asking price.
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