Liverpool will push ahead with plans to sign defender Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig this summer, Goal can confirm.
The Reds are ready to meet the release clause in the France U-21 international’s contract, understood to be worth around £40 million ($57m), and expect the 22-year-old to become the club’s first major signing as Jurgen Klopp looks to reshape his squad.
It comes after a campaign in which Liverpool suffered an unprecedented number of injuries at centre-back, and shows a determination on Klopp’s part not to find himself in a similar situation again. Konate, who has made 94 appearances in four seasons with Leipzig, will immediately compete for a first-team spot at Anfield and is seen as a player with strong potential to become an important player for the 2019-20 Premier League champions.
How likely is it that the deal will go through?
Liverpool’s interest in Konate was first reported back in March, and Goal understands that the Reds are now ready to step it up in the coming weeks, although sources have denied suggestions that the release clause has already been met.
Personal terms are unlikely to be an issue, with reports in Germany suggesting that a five-year contract has already been agreed in principle. Leipzig, it is understood, are resigned to losing the player, having already seen another centre-back, Dayot Upamecano, join Bayern Munich.
Konate is currently away on international duty with France’s U-21 side at the European Championship in Hungary, and sources have indicated that it is unlikely that a deal will be officially finalised until that tournament is concluded.
The Reds have been linked with other centre-backs, including Marseille’s Croatia international Duje Caleta-Car, but they will not be taking up their option to sign Ozan Kabak, who spent the second half of the season at Anfield on loan from Schalke.
Liverpool contacted Schalke sporting director Rouven Schroder last week to inform him that they would not making the move permanent. Kabak had hoped to stay at the club, having made 13 appearances following his temporary move, but will instead return to Germany, though he is expected to attract interest from a number of clubs across Europe, including at least three in the Premier League.
Liverpool, meanwhile, should have Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, their three senior centre-halves, back from injury in time for next season, and the impressive form of Nat Phillips since being drafted in as emergency cover provides another option, as does the 20-year-old Rhys Williams, who is likely to be loaned out to further his development. Sepp van den Berg will return from a loan with Preston, where he made 16 appearances.
Who is likely to depart Liverpool?
Divock Origi is for sale, and has interest from a number of clubs across Europe, while Liverpool will also look to offload Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson , who spent this season on loan with Porto and Cardiff respectively.
The futures of Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino are unclear, while Loris Karius is surplus to requirements and Taiwo Awoniyi , who has qualified for a UK work permit six years after joining the club, has interest from clubs including West Brom, Fulham and Stoke and would be sold if an offer of around £8m was received.
Others, such as Sheyi Ojo , Ben Woodburn and Liam Millar, also look likely to depart, either permanently or on loan, though teenager Harvey Elliott will get the chance to prove himself during pre-season after a promising year in the Championship with Blackburn.