Liverpool close in on Ibrahima Konate with RB Leipzig star set to sign five-year deal
Klopp: Third place finish 'felt impossible' just weeks ago
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Liverpool will sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate this summer, according to reports. The 21-year-old will sign a five-year deal with the Reds to end their defensive crisis.
Boss Jurgen Klopp endured most of the season without his main centre-back options.
Virgil van Dijk missed the majority of the campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during October’s Merseyside derby with Everton.
Jordan Pickford’s rash tackle on the 29-year-old in the 2-2 draw will also keep him out of Holland’s Euro 2020 campaign.
Joe Gomez was ruled out for the remainder of the season after rupturing a patella tendon while on international duty with England in November. He too will miss the Euros, which start on June 11.
Liverpool’s awful luck with injuries was then compounded when Joel Matip suffered ankle ligament damage against Tottenham in January.
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The Cameroon international has not played since.
Those injuries meant that Klopp was often forced to use inexperienced pair Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams in defence. Midfielder Fabinho also had a spell at centre-back.
The 24-year-old Phillips played 20 times in all competitions. Williams, 20, featured in one game fewer.
They both started Liverpool’s five-match winning that sensationally helped them qualify for the Champions League after a terrible start to their title defence.
A third-place finish was confirmed thanks to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
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But that has not stopped the Reds entering the market early to strengthen their centre-back options.
Leipzig defender Konate will join Klopp’s side when the transfer window reopens on June 9, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.
Liverpool will pay around £30million to bring the 21-year-old to Merseyside.
Konate’s prolific injury record was not enough to put the Reds off doing a deal.
He played just 14 times in the Bundesliga last season as Leipzig finished runners-up to Bayern Munich.
His development over the last few years has been hampered by successive muscle tears and an ankle injury.
Konate has played 95 times for the German side since signing from Sochaux in 2017.
The same report claims that Liverpool have not decided if they will turn Ozan Kabak’s loan deal into a permanent one.
The Turkish defender signed from Bundesliga side Schalke on a temporary deal in January. He played 13 times but did not feature after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United last month.
An £18m option to buy clause was inserted into Kabak’s contract, but it is now unlikely that it will be activated.
The 21-year-old will instead move elsewhere this summer following Schalke’s relegation from the Bundesliga.
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