Liverpool set for deal with Uruguay club Nacional

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport
Luis Suarez
Liverpool's Luis Suarez signed for Nacional when he was 14

Liverpool are close to a deal with Uruguayan champions Nacional that would give the Reds first option on the club's young stars.

The Merseysiders want to tap into the academy that produced current Liverpool duo Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates.

A Nacional spokesman told BBC Sport: "Liverpool would come and watch how our academy works and would have first option on signing our young players.

"We are working towards finalising an agreement as soon as possible."

Montevideo-based Nacional are at the forefront of a resurgence in Uruguayan football.

Some 14 players from this year's 23-man Copa America-winning Uruguay squad either played for Nacional or were developed at the club.

The club deploys scouts throughout the country to hunt down young players for its academy, which currently coaches 120 players aged between 13 and 20.

Suarez, 24, came through the Nacional academy before joining Dutch club Groningen and later moving to Ajax.

He signed for Liverpool for £22.7m in January and has scored five goals so far this season.

The Reds also signed 6ft 6in centre-back Coates, 21, in August after he impressed in the Copa America.

The Uruguayan duo are part of a South American contingent at the club that also includes Brazil's Lucas Leiva and Maxi Rodriguez of Argentina.

After recruiting Coates, Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli said he was keen to forge closer links with Nacional.

"We are talking about a partnership with them that we would like to create over the next three, four or five years, to see if there is more talent coming through," he told the Liverpool website in Septemberexternal-link.

"Maybe we can help them to develop their standards and, in turn, have the ability to bring those young players here.

"We already have a strong link with South America through Lucas [Leiva], Maxi [Rodriguez] and Luis [Suarez].

"Since it's been such a success with Luis - and I'm sure it will be for Sebastian [Coates] - why don't we try to make it an even bigger success by bringing in other players from Nacional?"

A Liverpool spokesman said the club had nothing to add to Comolli's comments at this stage.