Premier League • England

Klopp approves Schmadtke move as Liverpool swoop for £25m defender after agonising Tottenham transfer miss

Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is a target for Liverpool

Maxence Lacroix is a target for Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is reportedly ready to make a January move for Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix after previously missing out on the signing of a classy Tottenham star.

The Merseysiders spent the summer rebuilding their midfield, making four signings to the tune of £145.2m. That very much took up all of Liverpool‘s focus after the planned departure of four stars was suddenly exasperated by Jordan Henderson and Fabinho’s decision to leave for Saudi Arabia.

Going into that summer window, midfield was always going to be the Reds’ priority, given the free-transfer exits of James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Flop loanee Arthur Melo also returned to Juventus, reducing Klopp’s numbers further.

However, Klopp initially also planned to sign a new centre-half too over the summer, with the ambition ultimately having to be shelved as midfield recruits took precedence.

Since then, though, Liverpool have lost stalwart Joel Matip to a serious ACL injury which threatens to not only end his season, but also his time as a Reds player, given his deal is due to expire this summer.

As a result, Klopp has made to make do with Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate as potential partners for Virgil van Dijk, and with youngster Jarell Quansah also stepping up.

However, there is no doubting Liverpool’s ambition to further strengthen their defensive options and is now seems Wolsfburg defender Lacroix is coming firmly back on to their radar.

The 23-year-old has illustrated his quality in the Bundesliga and the Daily Mail now reports that an approach is in the offing.

Rated at around the €30m (£25m) mark, Lacroix is a regular in the Wolfsburg rearguard having made 16 appearances in all competitions so far this season.

READ MORE ~ The Premier League table of injuries: Liverpool currently have five on list

Klopp listens to Schmadtke over Liverpool Lacroix links

As a result, it’s reported that Liverpool are prepping an offer to tempt Wolfsburg into his sale, though in an ideal world, the Reds would love to try before they buy and sign Lacroix on loan with an option to make the move permanent.

Down the line, Liverpool also have their eyes on Sporting Lisbon defender Goncalo Inacio and the Portuguese will likely be a big summer target of Klopp’s.

Currently having a €60m (£51.6m) exit clause, any move for Inacio is considered too costly for Liverpool right now, hence the interest in the far-cheaper Lacroix.

Liverpool’s interest in the player comes about on the recommendation of sporting director Jorg Schmadtke. The German was brought to Anfield over the summer on an initial one-year deal and following the departure of Julian Ward.

Given the briefing of helping rebuild Liverpool’s midfield, Klopp has learned to trust Schmadtke, who orchestrated the £60m swoop for new fans’ favourite Dominik Szoboszlai.

Schmadtke also recommended Liverpool to sign Micky van de Ven, feeling the then-Wolfsburg man would have been perfect for the Premier League. And while Liverpool were forced to take a back seat as Tottenham swooped in, the form the Dutchman has since shown since moving to London has fully vindicated Schmadtke’s recommendation.

Now Liverpool talks over an extension to Schmadtke’s deal are underway, having won the admiration of Klopp during his short spell at the club so far.

At the same time, Klopp has now learned that Liverpool probably cannot afford to miss out on a Schmadtke transfer target again, with an approach for Lacroix now reportedly in the works.

The defender has a pass accuracy of 86.9% this season, wins 2.4 aerial challenges per game and averages 1.6 tackles per match.

DON’T MISSMo Salah agent stirs the pot over Liverpool future after big Mbappe twist fuels tantalising Anfield proposition