Jurgen Klopp faces West Ham battle as Liverpool linked with £40m Paul Pogba clone Marcelo Bielsa wanted at Leeds

Kouadio Kone Borussia Monchengladbach 2022 TEAMtalk1

Multiple reports claim Liverpool are in a race with West Ham United to sign Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Kouadio Kone.

The 21-year-old has been catching the eye with his displays in the Bundesliga this term. The France Under-21 star has started 13 of Die Fohlen’s 14 German top-flight games. And he has helped his club to ninth in the table, with 19 points from 14 games ahead of the World Cup break.

The talented youngster made his name at Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, with 59 appearances in all competitions after making his debut in May 2019.

Gladbach came calling in January 2021, securing his services until the summer of 2025. However, he remained in France to see out the rest of the campaign with Les Violets.

‘Manu’ Kone was handed 26 starts among 27 Bundesliga appearances in 2021-2022.

He bagged two goals and, never a player to back down from a challenge, ten red cards throughout the season.

And head coach Daniel Farke has put his faith in the hard-working schemer over the past three months.

It remains to be seen if Gladbach can keep hold of their rising star, with a few big clubs clearly sniffing around.

German outlet Bild claim that the Hammers have made Kone their top target for next year.

However, Sky Sports suggest the Reds have also shown more than a passing interest in acquiring his services.

Italian outlet Tutto Mercato Web have compared the youngster to former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba. They suggest he has similar physical attributes and is as versatile as the France international.

None of the reports mentioned state whether either club will look to sign him in the upcoming January transfer window.

Kone price quadruples after stellar displays

Manchester United have also been linked with Kone over the years. But it is Leeds who are thought to have been closest to trying to sign him.

Corriere dello Sport suggest then Whites chief Marcelo Bielsa urged the board to bring him to Elland Road while he was still at Toulouse.

And his price back then would have been around the £9m mark.

However, Sky Sports are now stating that any interested suitor will have to find in the region of £40m to get a deal done.

But it seems as though he may be available to any club willing to part with that amount.

Kone exit seems likely

A move to either Premier League side would probably appeal to the starlet. Liverpool can offer Champions League football.

But there is always the chance that he might struggle to see much first-team action at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp has an array of talent at his disposal. And, although the German is never afraid to play youngsters, it may be tough to break into the Merseysiders’ first team.

West Ham are a club that has very much been on the rise. David Moyes has led them to sixth and seventh-place finishes in the past two seasons.

After a tough start to 2022-2023, the Hammers are now out of the bottom three with 14 points from as many games played.

They have lost their last two, however, and could look to strengthen in the new year. And it appears as though Kone is a realistic target.

Gladbach director of football, Roland Virkus, recently stated: “I’d be lying if I said we would never sell him. There have already been inquiries for Manu.”

It seems inevitable that Kone will end up at one of Europe’s top outfits.

Other clubs seem certain to join the race but, for now, Liverpool and West Ham might face a scrap next year.

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