Liverpool have stepped up their interest in Cagliari defender Davide Astori, [football] direct news understands. A source close to Anfield told FDN that defensive reinforcements are a priority ahead of the summer transfer and the Italy international’s name sits at the top of their shopping list. The title challengers, who go into Sunday’s final game of the season against Newcastle United knowing leaders Manchester City are one point away from taking top honours, hope to pull off a cut-price deal for the centre-half. Astori has little more than one year remaining on his contract with the Serie A outfit and could be lured to Merseyside for around 7million. The Reds aim to secure his services before the World Cup gets under way in Brazil next month. Their leaky defence has proved to be their undoing in the closing weeks of a thrilling title race, most notably the 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday, which saw the visitors surrender a 3-0 lead in the last 11 minutes. They could face competition from Tottenham Hotspur who, according to reports in his homeland, are also keen on Astori.