- May 8, 2002
- Reaction score
Liverpool expect to complete the £36million signing of RB Leipzig centre-half Ibrahima Konate in the next 48 hours after agreeing personal terms with the player and his representatives. The Merseyside club has made its move to secure the 22-year-old before the start of next week’s UEFA Under 21 championships. Konate is part of the France squad who play their opening game against the Netherlands on Monday but he has been given permission to finalise his switch. Liverpool are sure the player wants to move to Anfield. Konate emerged as the first choice on a list of potential centre-back recruits drawn up during last season. Liverpool moved to convince the youngster to choose Anfield amid interest from several top European clubs, and now all the indications are the race is won and statements are imminent. How Konate will fit into Klopp’s plans next season If signed, Konate will start the next campaign vying for a place at the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s defence. Liverpool see him as possessing the physical attributes to slot into Klopp’s backline. Konate is quick and powerful and the Bundlesliga is seen as the ideal preparation for the similarly robust and pacey Premier League. Liverpool’s scouts recommended Konate ahead of Dayot Upamecano, who agreed a move to Bayern Munich earlier this season. Konate will have the opportunity to compete to be the long-term partner for Virgil van Dijk, although one of the reasons Liverpool are eager to conclude the deal is to enable caution with the Dutchman’s recovery from cruciate knee surgery. While Van Dijk has targeted a return in pre-season, the serious nature of his injury means Liverpool will not rush him back if they have other viable options. Both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip - also long-term absentees - may be further down the line in their recoveries by August. Konate, therefore, may find himself partnering Gomez and Matip in his first Liverpool appearances. Who may leave Liverpool? Manager Jurgen Klopp said last week he hoped Liverpool’s summer business would be complete before the start of pre-season, but has already made it clear he does not foresee major changes. Klopp said he intended no more than ‘little adjustments’, and much of that will depend on the outgoings. Players such as Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri have been available for the last few transfer windows but have not been the subject of attractive enough offers. Much may yet depend on how many of Klopp’s fringe players are offloaded before it is determined how much he has to spend during the rest of the transfer window. Centre-back was always the immediate priority and has been for over a year since Dejan Lovren was sold. Klopp took the calculated risk of heading into last season with only three senior centre-backs and was prepared to use Fabinho as an emergency fourth choice. That backfired when all three were injured. Liverpool signed two defenders in the January transfer window, but Ozan Kabak - on loan from Schalke - was always intended to be a short-term option. That was clear when Liverpool agreed a six-month contract without any obligation to buy. Kabak has not been retained. Although Liverpool have allowed Georginio Wijnaldum’s contract to expire, it is by no means certain they will sign a direct replacement. Liverpool bought midfielder Thiago Alcantara last summer, skipper Jordan Henderson will be back, and there are high hopes youngster Curtis Jones will further establish himself next season. Klopp maintains his faith in Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose Liverpool careers have been blighted by injury problems so far.