Liverpool are reportedly closing in on the signing of RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate, although one major sticking point needs to be resolved.
Respected transfer expert Fabrizio Romano reported in his Benchwarmers column that “it seems only a matter of time” before the Frenchman becomes the Reds’ first summer signing. The Leipzig star has a release clause €40million (£34.7m) for any club chasing his services.
The 21-year-old has been outstanding alongside Dayot Upamecano at the heart of the Leipzig defence. Indeed, the latter has already agreed to join his current boss Julian Nagelsmann at Bayern Munich next season.
And now Konate also looks to be on the move, as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster a defence that has been beset by injuries this term.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are expected to return next season. However, Klopp wants better cover on hand after the Reds struggled in their title defence, having to regularly use youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
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Both players performed well, particularly Phillips, who has been surprisingly tipped for an Anfield exit this summer.
Romano writes that Konate has agreed terms on a five-year contract to move to Merseyside. To that end, it appears that the deal is close to being finalised.
Reds facing one stumbling block
However, a report in the Daily Mail suggests that one stumbling block remains, from the Leipzig end.
The Bundesliga outfit want the £34.7m exit clause paid in full upfront rather than instalments. That could present an issue for the Reds, unless they sell some fringe stars first.
Liverpool have previously opted for an instalment structure for deals. They paid Wolves just £4m of the £45m agreed for Diogo Jota last summer. They are due to pay an additional £12m this coming window in the next stage of payment.
But if the Reds do agree over how the payment is structured then Konate could join former Leipzig teammate Naby Keita at Anfield.
That is if Keita stays put beyond the summer, with the midfielder tipped for a Liverpool exit.