Liverpool will wait for summer in order to beat Borussia Dortmund to Basel centre back Manuel Akanji

Exclusive: Basel would prefer to sell to the Reds in the summer as Dortmund want him in January

Simon Hughes@simon_hughes__
Thursday 21 December 2017 13:46
Winter transfer window: Ten players looking for a move in January

Liverpool are competing with Borussia Dortmund for FC Basel centre back Manuel Akanji, The Independent can reveal.

The 22-year-old has emerged as one of the most promising players in Switzerland over the last 12 months having become a mainstay in the Basel defence which defeated Manchester United last month, a result that helped seal progression to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Basel, however, are determined to keep hold of Akanji for the rest of the campaign having been drawn against Manchester City in the second round of the Champions League in February.

Like Liverpool, Dortmund have faced fierce criticism this season for their defending and Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s sporting director, has identified Akanji as someone whose pace can cover large sections of the pitch when the rest of the team attacks. He has met with representatives of Basel on at least three occasions.

With Dortmund pushing hard for a January deal, though, and Liverpool open to the idea of a summer switch, a transfer to Merseyside might ultimately prove to suit each trading parties best.

Akanji has been an ever-present for Basel this season

Liverpool have been exploring their defensive options since the summer when Virgil van Dijk’s move to Anfield collapsed, with Liverpool offering an apology to Southampton after it became public that Jürgen Klopp had met with Van Dijk in Blackpool. If Liverpool were to revive a bid for Van Dijk, there is a feeling that they would need encouragement from Southampton first.

Though Klopp has repeated the message that he has faith in Dejan Lovren, Joël Matip and Ragnar Klavan, it is recognised that Liverpool need another centre back in terms of numbers alone, especially with regular problems around the issue of availability. Earlier this month, Klopp was forced to play Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum as emergency defenders in the victory at Brighton.

Having signed for Basel in 2015, Akanji has been an ever-present this season and he is under contract until 2021. He made his debut for the national team in June and featured in both legs of Switzerland’s World Cup qualifying victory over Northern Ireland.

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