Liverpool ready to spend big on Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate

Liverpool ready to spend big on Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate

Ibrahima Konate.

Liverpool are pursuing a £35m (€40.4m) deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate to bolster their centre-back options for the new season.

A third-place finish that guaranteed Champions League football — something which had looked highly unlikely with 10 matches to go — has given the club the confidence to press ahead with their interest in the 22-year-old.

It is understood the France U21 international’s release clause of €41m (£35.5m) has not yet been triggered but that Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of a player who was identified as a primary target earlier in the year, even before the Reds drew his Bundesliga side in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Interest in Konate means the club will not be taking up the £18m option to make Ozan Kabak’s loan from Schalke permanent.

The 21-year-old was signed in January, along with Preston’s Ben Davies, who failed to make an appearance for them in the final four months of the season, as cover for their trio of injured centre-backs Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip.

All three are expected to be fit for pre-season and with Konate top of their list of targets, the future of Nat Phillips, who deputised so well in his breakthrough season, will come under scrutiny.

The 24-year-old, who was on the verge of a loan move to Swansea in October, made 20 appearances this season and while his aerial prowess was a welcome addition for Jurgen Klopp’s side, his lack of pace is likely to count against him in the long run. 

Rhys Williams, the 20-year-old who made 19 appearances and finished the season as Phillips’ regular partner, is likely to be retained with a view to going out on loan. Just 18 months ago he had a temporary spell at Kidderminster in England’s National League North.

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