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Liverpool are on the cusp of completing a deal to make RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate their first signing of the summer transfer window, per reports. The Reds are looking to bolster a back-line that has been badly hit by injuries this season, undermining their hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all having suffered season-ending injuries, Liverpool have been forced to rely upon Nat Phillips and the on-loan Ozan Kabak as their most-used partnership.
Even those two have suffered injury problems of late however with Fabinho, and captain Jordan Henderson earlier in the campaign, having had to fill in in central defence.
With Van Dijk and Gomez expected to need time to get back to peak fitness, and Matip having a horrible record of niggles and issues at Anfield, Liverpool have prioritised the addition of a new defender.
Leipzig’s Konate, 21, has been identified as their top target and new reports say they are set to sign the Frenchman for a fee of around £30million thanks to a release clause in his contract.
That’s despite interest in the player from across Europe with Manchester United and Chelsea among those to previously be credited as admirers.
Konate is said to have agreed a five-year contract to move to Merseyside at the end of the season and will become the second Leipzig player to link up with Liverpool in the past three years after Naby Keita made the same move in 2018.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said on Twitter on Friday afternoon: “Ibrahima Konate to Liverpool, here we go soon! The deal is set to be completed, personal terms agreed on a five-years contract.
“Liverpool will pay the release clause to RB Leipzig in the next days [around €35m] in order to finalize the signing of Konate #LFC.”
France under-21 international Konate is one of the highest-rated young defenders across Europe, though also has a worrying recent history of injury problems.
He has been limited to just 12 Bundesliga appearances under Julian Nagelsmann this term and was an unused substitute in the two Champions League last 16 legs against Liverpool in February and March.
Yet his skillset and immense promise has seen Liverpool earmark him as the ideal candidate to strengthen Jurgen Klopp’s options at the back next year.
Konate is Liverpool’s first major defensive recruit since the club-record arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January 2018.
Liverpool are set to secure Konate’s arrival despite it remaining unclear whether they will be in the Champions League or not in 2021-22.
The Reds sit seventh in the Premier League table and two points off of fourth-placed Chelsea with five matches of the Premier League season to go.
Klopp’s charges take on Newcastle this weekend (Saturday, 12.30pm) while Chelsea take on West Ham, sat fifth on the same points but behind on goal difference, later the same day.
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