With the European Under-21 Championships drawing to a close, Liverpool fans around the world will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings with Emre Can’s Germany facing Portugal in the semi-finals later today. Unfortunately, Reds fans aren’t likely to catch a glimpse of Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori after he was forced off the field less than a half hour into their quarter-final draw with Sweden earlier in the week.
The 22-year old has put in a number of impressive performances throughout the tournament, including keeping Tottenham Hotspur hit-man Harry Kane quiet during their meeting with a highly favoured England side and keeping Italy at bay. On the back of a successful season long loan spell with French outfit Bordeaux, Ilori will be meeting up with Liverpool for pre-season with the player’s father Kola saying that he’s not about to give up on his dream of securing a first team spot.
“He is determined to make a success of it at Liverpool. You don’t give up on it lightly,” he explained, going on to reveal that the 22-year old is prepared to fight for his spot at Anfield. “There’s a long list of central defenders, as we well know, in front of him, but that’s the way it goes in football,” he continued before switching gears and hinting that his son will choose to represent Portugal at a senior level despite also being eligible to play for England. “I think Tiago, if you ask him, his allegiance football-wise is definitely Portugal. It’s where he has been. I think there’s seven guys (in the current U21 squad) that came through the Sporting (Lisbon) ranks so he is pretty close to them.”
The Reds, who just recently snapped up promising Charlton defender Joe Gomez, have quiet a few central defenders on the books. While they haven’t all been terribly reliable, the likes of Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure will all be above the Portuguese youngster in the depth chart which could make fighting his way into the side an up-hill battle.