Underused Liverpool star emerges as shock Napoli target alongside Wolves and Leeds defenders

Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool, Robin Koch of Leeds United and Max Kilman of Wolves

Napoli are reportedly considering a stunning move for Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate as a replacement for Kim Min-jae – but he is just one of five options on their shortlist.

Last summer, Napoli had to replace Kalidou Koulibaly after he joined Chelsea. To fill the void, they bought Kim from Fenerbahce. Both of those defenders will be changing clubs again after just one year, but for contrasting reasons.

Koulibaly flopped at Chelsea and has gone to Saudi Arabia to play for Al Hilal. Kim, on the other hand, was an inspired choice by Napoli, who won the Serie A title.

He is now due to leave them for Bayern Munich, though, due to a release clause in his contract. Therefore, Napoli are now trying to find another inspired choice to evolve their defence again.

According to Corriere Dello Sport, one of the names on their shortlist is Konate. Liverpool signed the France international from RB Leipzig two years ago, but he has had to be patient to make the kind of impact they were hoping for.

In his debut season, Jurgen Klopp’s selection preferences limited him to just 11 Premier League appearances. Then, in his second, injuries didn’t help as Konate reached the tally of 18 league outings.

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If he can stay healthy, the 24-year-old should still be a strong option for Liverpool in the long term. However, Napoli may be thinking there is an opportunity there for them.

Despite that, Konate’s wages may be beyond reach for the Serie A champions. With that in mind, they are keeping their options open.

Leeds and Wolves players join Konate on Napoli shortlist

Two of the other names they are considering played in the Premier League last season as well. Their interest in Robin Koch, who suffered relegation with Leeds United, has been reiterated in the report by Corriere Dello Sport.

In addition, Napoli are reportedly also keen on Max Kilman of Wolves.

Ko Itakura, formerly on Manchester City’s books and now at Borussia Monchengladbach, is another option who remains on their shortlist.

But their ideal target, the report indicates, would be Robin Le Normand from Real Sociedad. The fact that the cost of signing him would be similar to what they would earn from selling Kim is off-putting, though.

It means players like Konate will be considered more if Napoli are unable to secure their dream signing of Le Normand.

However, Liverpool’s number five seems to be thinking firmly about being part of how Klopp’s squad evolves. Last month, for example, he talked up their interest in his compatriot Khephren Thuram for their midfield.

And back in March, when quizzed on the topic of a potential Liverpool exit, Konate told Eurosport France: “When you play for Liverpool, the question honestly is, ‘Where can I go next?’

“And to last at this club, you have to perform. My goal is to be part of the team in the short and long term, and of course to win all the titles.”