Liverpool are hoping to beat Barcelona to the signing of promising Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez, [football] direct news understands. The 22-year-old has been in superb form in La Liga this season, emerging as one of the most promising young defenders in Spain with some commanding and intelligent performances for the Basque giants. Liverpool are in desperate need of signings in defence after a recent horror-show at Crystal Palace saw them lose a three-goal lead in the space of just eleven minutes, and take their goals-against tally to 49 for the season – the worst defensive record in the Premier League’s top five. Martinez has been linked with the Reds before, and after emering as a possible January target, he could be in their sights again this summer, though they will face competition from Barcelona and other top European clubs. Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have also been mentioned as potential suitors for the Spanish international, who will no doubt command a hefty transfer fee. However, an Anfield insider confirmed that Martinez was among Brendan Rodgers’ top targets, and that the club will hope to be able to land that calibre of player with the boost of extra transfer funds from qualifying for next season’s Champions League.