Ibrahima Konate: Liverpool press on with €40m transfer after Champions League qualification

Liverpool are hoping to refresh a weary squad in the transfer market this summer

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Tuesday 25 May 2021 16:02
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Liverpool’s qualification for the Champions League has enabled the club to push on with plans to secure primary transfer target Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.

Discussions with the centre-back’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, took place at the turn of the year and by April it was clear that a deal in principle had been personally struck with the 22-year-old, but it was contingent on a number of factors which included the club’s final top-flight position.

Finishing third secures financial security for Liverpool, allowing them to meet Konate’s €41 million release clause that requires an upfront payment.

The defender had also wanted to continue his development competing amongst Europe’s elite.

Liverpool insist the clause has not been activated yet, and with Konate part of the France U21 European Championship team in Hungary and Slovenia, a deal could only be completed when his tournament ends.

The pursuit of the Leipzig player means that Ozan Kabak’s loan deal will not be made permanent despite the Turkey international performing admirably under taxing circumstances.

The 21-year-old, who was available for £18m, was only a stop gap option to calm Liverpool’s defensive crisis. The last-ditch scramble for Kabak materialised because Marseille would not sanction the permanent sale of Duje Caleta-Car so late in the January window.

The Croatia international and Konate were top of Liverpool’s wishlist to fortify their rearguard with both able to immediately push for a starting spot.

There was always uncertainty over Kabak, however, which was evident by the club highlighting their agreement with Schalke for the player included an option rather than the obligation to buy.

Jurgen Klopp has appreciated the youngster’s efforts, but there is recognition that he would be operating under altogether different expectations, judgement level and conditions if he remained at Anfield. Leicester City are among the clubs interested in recruiting Kabak.

Konate would represent the first step in Liverpool’s summer of refreshing the squad and closing the holes in it to not leave the group so exposed as well as physically and mentally fatigued next season.

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