Premier League • England

Klopp eyes Belgian star seen as perfect Matip upgrade for Liverpool with positional tweak planned for Van Dijk

Stade Rennes defender Arthur Theate is a target for Liverpool

Arthur Theate is a target for Liverpool

Liverpool are reportedly exploring a possible late window raid to sign Rennes defender Arthur Theate with Jurgen Klopp hoping to tweak his defensive formation this season.

The Merseysiders always wanted to strengthen their defensive options this summer amid long-term question marks over Joel Matip. The long-serving defender is now 32 and has often proved injury-prone during his time at Anfield. Furthermore, with just 12 months left on his contract, Jurgen Klopp was always open to the idea of moving him on and replacing him this summer.

However, with midfield additions taking precedence, Liverpool have taken their eyes off the ball somewhat over defensive recruits.

With six departures in the midfield this summer – two of which, in Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, were unplanned – Liverpool have been left trying to plug those gaps in their engine room. To that end, they hope to soon wrap up the signing of Waturu Endo from Stuttgart in a €18m deal.

And further reinforcements could yet be on the cards too; to that end Friday’s Euro Paper Talk discusses a potential swap deal between Liverpool and Bayern Munich for a top Klopp target.

It all means though, that Klopp has not given plans to reinforce his defensive options the attention he initiall planned. As a result, his interest in one of those targets – Micky van de Ven – was allowed to slip him by with Tottenham stepping in to seal his signing.

Nonetheless, Klopp does have other options in mind and now impressive Belgium defender Theate is emerging as a prominent target.

And according to L’Equipe, Klopp is strongly considering a move for the 23-year-old before the window closes.

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Klopp wants left-sided centre-half to sign for Liverpool

Indeed, the French paper claims Klopp specifically wants to sign a left-sided centre-half before the window shuts. With that in mind, he hopes to tweak his defensive line with Virgil van Dijk, whose pace has slowed somewhat in the last 12 months, moving across to the right-sided centre-half position.

The ideal solution would have come with Josko Gvardiol, though he of course moved to Manchester City in a £77.5m move. And with Van de Ven having also slipped the net, Liverpool could now turn their focus to Theate.

Capped eight times by Belgium, Theate has a growing reputation in the game having already also enjoyed a season in Italy with Bologna. Now at Rennes, he made 41 appearances last season, scoring an impressive five times.

However, it was his work in defence that has really caught the eye with Theate rated as one of the best defenders in Ligue 1.

While the article does not mention the sort of fee Liverpool would need to prise Theate away, it is reported that they would face competition from Fulham for his signature with the Cottagers having already made enquiries themselves.

Furthermore, it’s reported that a sizeable offer may leave Rennes with little choice but to cash in, with the player also likely to be ‘sucked in’ by the appeal of playing in the Premier League.

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