Dries Mertens
Reported Liverpool target Dries Mertens (R) is a regular part of an exciting Belgium side that also features Everton's Marouane Fellaini. Reuters

Liverpool are said to be a leading contender to sign Torino’s highly-rated center-back Angelo Ogbonna. The 24-year-old has emerged as one of the most talked about defenders in Europe of late, due to his form in helping the Turin side back to Serie A and impressing in Italy’s top division at the beginning of this season. Ogbonna was also a member of Italy’s Euro 2012 squad.

A number of Europe’s top clubs—including Manchester United, Manchester City and big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala—have all been linked to Ogbonna in recent times. However, according to Italian publication Tuttosport, Liverpool have stepped up their efforts by sending scouts to watch him in action against Cagliari on Sunday.

Torino’s president Urbano Cairo has said that he values Ogbonna at €20 million (£16 million). The five-times capped international recently said that he may be open to a move at the end of the season and is keen on the Premier League.

"I had many offers [in the summer] but I chose to stay here and I'm happy to have made it," he told Tuttosport.

"[Coach Giampiero] Ventura has influenced me more than anyone else.

"I've always been happy here. I have a long contract with Torino, I will give my best this season, then we'll see.

"I would go abroad willingly. I would like to experience other cultures. English football fascinates me, but the style is similar to Torino's one. And I speak English."

Liverpool are also said to be facing stiff competition for another transfer target: Nicolas Gaitan. The Reds are thought to be have had a £14 million offer for the Benfica attacking midfielder during the summer. Having also been linked with Manchester United in the past, Metro now claims that the Argentina international is a January target for Anzhi.

According to the story, Benfica are likely to accept the Russians’ £20 million bid, with neither Liverpool nor United prepared to match the offer.

As a result, Liverpool have now turned their attentions toward PSV Eindhoven winger Dries Mertens, according to Metro and TalkSport. The Belgium international’s goal-scoring ability is thought to appeal to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers given his side’s struggles in front of goal this season.

Mertens has struck four goals in six Eredivisie matches to begin the season, following on from hitting the back of the net 20 times in 24 games over the last league campaign. Liverpool could launch a £9.7 million move for the 25-year-old in January.

Another wide option for Liverpool is thought to be Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. The England Under-21 international is on the radar of several Premier League clubs, including the Reds, although Tottenham are now frontrunners, according to the Daily Mirror.

Zaha, 19, has also been among the goals this season, scoring four times in 10 appearances in the Championship. Palace are thought to be value the player at £8 million and manager Dougie Freedman said he would allow Zaha to leave when the time is right.

“When he's ready and when I think he's ready to go to the right club, I will tap Wilfried on the shoulder and tell him I can't help him any longer," he said, according to the Mirror.

"It's a little bit different with my kids, the relationship has been there a long time.

"Wilfried can play at the top level if he continues going with his movement, he's got wonderful technique and ability. His all-round game is coming together."