Liverpool are interested in raiding cash-strapped Sporting Lisbon for their highly-rated young defender Tiago Illori as manager Brendan Rodgers looks to strengthen his defensive options for next season.

With Jamie Carragher retiring at the end of the season, and with question marks over the future of Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel, it is vital that Liverpool sign a centre-back during the summer transfer window.

Tiago Illori
Tiago Illori has impressed after forcing his way into the Sporting Lisbon first team this season.

Rodgers has made it clear that he will have funds to spend and that signing a defender will be a priority, leading the Daily Mail to suggest that Liverpool will attempt to secure the signature of Illori who has been monitored by the Premier League club for some time.

The Reds have previously recruited from the Portuguese club when they managed to convince midfielder Joao Teixeira to make the move to Anfield after starring for the Sporting NextGen side.

Now they hope that they can persuade Illori to join his former team-mate, with reports suggesting that an offer in the region of £1.2million would be enough to persuade Sporting to part with the 20-year-old.

The Portugal Under-20 international, who was born in London and has an English father, has forced his way into the first team this season and has made eight appearances in the league, even opening his account for the club when he scored in the 3-2 win over Gil Vicente back in February.

Despite only playing a handful of games for Sporting, Liverpool have clearly been impressed with the progression of Illori who certainly fits in with the club's policy of signing young players with a future sell-on value.

With Sporting struggling financially and in the league, where they currently sit in seventh place, some 37 points behind leaders Benfica, there is a feeling that a number of players will seek an exit at the end of the season.

Should Illori decide to make the move to Liverpool then he may well find himself competing with the likes of Andre Wisdom and Martin Kelly who will both be hoping that Carragher's retirement gives them the opportunity to play in their preferred position at centre-back.