Liverpoolcould be forced to go toe to toe with S.L. Benfica this summer in the race to sign Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, according to reports in Portugal.

Ziyech has been one of the most talked about players ahead of the World Cup this summer, with a number of European giants said to be interested in activating the €20m release clause in his current contract at the Amsterdam Arena.

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Italian sides Napoliand Roma have both been linked with a move for the Morroco international - who started for his country's opening game at the World Cup against Iran - but Liverpool took the lead in the race for his signature after seeing a deal for Lyon's Nabil Fekir fall through.

However, the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã (via Sport Witness) has reported how Benfica will step up their interest in Ziyech this summer, even claiming that Ajax could sell their talisman for less than his release clause - which seems unlikely.

Benfica are also looking to muscle their way into negotiations for Sporting CP pair Gelson Martins and Bruno Fernandes, with a number of clubs across Europe hoping to capitalise on the current misfortune at the Estádio José Alvalade.

The former, who is one of seven Sporting players looking to terminate their contract with the club, is reportedly in talks with Arsenalahead of a potential move this summer, with the Gunners even having two bids of €30m rejected by the Portuguese side.

While Fernandes, formerly a target for Tottenham Hotspur, is claimed to be in talks with Interas he looks to find a club ahead of the new season, while Roma, Milanand Evertonare also keeping tabs on the 23-year-old midfielder.