Liverpool are reportedly keeping a close eye on the Barcelona B-team ahead of making a raid for the most promising starlets coming out of La Masia. Spanish publication Sport claims Reds scout Kiko Espinar has been a regular presence at recent matches featuring the Catalan reserves, as Jurgen Klopp has designs on some of their hottest prospects.
The Barcelona academy is one of the most highly regarded in European football and has produced current Nou Camp first-teamers such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets or Sergi Roberto.
However, the Catalan club were forced to make a major summer overhaul to their second team during last summer following a couple of poor campaigns. Having been relegated from the second division in the 2014-2015 season, they ended in a disappointing 11th position in Spanish Second Division B (Spanish football's third tier) last year.
Barcelona subsequently made a number of new additions to bolster the squad, such as Alberto Varo, Jose Antonio Martínez, Jesús Alfaro, Ignacio Abeledo, Marc Cardona, 'Nili' Perdomoor and Marlon Santos.
The revolution has paid off as the Catalan reserves are now currently leading their league following an impressive start to the campaign, having lost only three games in the first 11 of the season.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has looked to some of these players to help address the injury situation at the Nou Camp. Marlon, Nili and 18-year-old Carles Aleña, who is said to be the biggest jewel of the second team, have all been included in the first-team squad for the Champions League clash with Manchester City on Tuesday (1 November), having already made the team in the weekend victory over Granada.
Last week Sport said Barcelona were expected to complete the purchase of Marlon Santos from Fluminense before the end of the year as he is currently on loan at the Nou Camp.
But now the Catalan publication claims that the impressive campaign of Marlon and his Barcelona B teammates has attracted the attention of Liverpool.
Sport claims that the Merseysiders have sent Espinar to recent games of the Barcelona second team in order to track the development of some starlets. Espinar is the Liverpool scout for Spain and Portugal and Sport says that he has been spotted taking notes of some unnamed players, possibly including the likes of Marlon, Nili, Wilfrid Kaptoum or Cardona.
The Premier League giants already lured current Norwich forward Sergi Canos from La Masia in 2013 and have also other Spanish talents in their current youth ranks like former Valencia midfielder Pedro Chirivella and ex-Villarreal wunderkind Magder Antonio Gomes.