Liverpool: What now for Jurgen Klopp?
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RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate has claimed that Liverpool are yet to contact him over the possibility of a summer move, despite continued reports linking the 21-year-old with an imminent switch to Anfield. Konate is said to be near the top of Jurgen Klopp’s transfer shortlist as the German boss eyes defensive reinforcements ahead of next season.
Liverpool were forced into action in January after injuries to a number of crucial first-team players, with the club successfully recruiting Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak on a half-season loan deal from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke.
However, the former is yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Reds, and it remains to be seen whether they will take up the £18million option to buy Kabak at the end of his temporary spell.
Konate has been mentioned in connection with a number of clubs in recent weeks, including Manchester United and Chelsea, but Liverpool are said to be in pole position for his signature.
The Frenchman has impressed at regular intervals for Leipzig this season, striking up an impressive partnership with compatriot Dayot Upamecano when called upon to feature at the heart of his side’s back four.
Although Liverpool have been tipped to eventually sign Konate during the summer months, with some reports claiming that negotiations are already at an advanced stage, the player himself has revealed that neither he nor his representatives have been sounded out by last year’s Premier League champions.
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When quizzed on the speculation surrounding his future, Konate told Bild: “There are often rumours in football and many believe them immediately.
“I or my agents did not get a call from Liverpool. I also have big goals with RB Leipzig.
“These are currently the best possible result in the Bundesliga, reaching the cup final and [winning] the under-21 European Championship with France.”
Leipzig are still in the hunt to claim a maiden domestic title this season, sitting five points adrift of leaders Bayern Munich with six games left to play.
Konate is under contract until the summer of 2023, and has seemingly poured cold water on the possibility of a move away in the near future by reaffirming his commitment to honour the extension he signed two years ago.
“I have a contract until 2023,” he added. “And contracts are there to fulfil them.”
Konate’s admissions suggest that Liverpool could be pursuing additional options in their search for a new centre-back this summer.
A number of other potential targets have been linked with the Anfield club, including Brighton and Hove Albion’s Ben White and Milan Skrinar of Inter Milan.
Alternatively, the Reds could look to seal Kabak’s signature on a permanent basis by exercising their £18m option to buy.
Klopp has previously spoken of his fondness for the Turkey international, with the Liverpool boss claiming in February that he was mightily impressed by his new recruit’s first month in England.
“Oh, big potential, 20 years old, already pretty experienced, to be honest,” Klopp told reporters after Kabak helped to keep a clean sheet in last month’s Champions League round of 16 first-leg victory over Leipzig.
“When you are in Istanbul and can play for one of the biggest teams probably in the world and always [being] around the top of the table.
“Then go to Stuttgart and you go to Schalke, and all these kinds of things, so you have to fight really hard to win a football game.
“That’s good from an education development point of view. So now he’s here and it looks really promising.”
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