Liverpool always intended to make a big signing at centre half in the summer of 2021, the only question was who, with many believing Bayern-bound Dayot Upamecano was in fact the name to watch for much of the first half of the season.
In January, though, reliable reports emerged suggesting that it was in fact Upamecano’s RB Leipzig teammate Ibrahima Konaté who was the club’s top defensive target. Now, it appears that has been confirmed—and that the club are closing on a deal for him.
That’s the story from The Athletic’s David Ornstein, who says that while the deal isn’t 100% done just yet, talks with the player and selling club are at an advanced stage with the Reds expecting they will need to pay Konaté’s €40M release clause.
If the deal in fact gets completed, it would be a significant signing for Liverpool and hint at a major reshuffle at the back for a side that saw their Premier League title defence efforts derailed when three senior centre halves were felled by season-ending injuries.
There are no doubts the club continue to plan around superstar defender Virgil van Dijk anchoring their backline for the foreseeable future, and despite a string of worrying injuries Liverpool are believed to remain high on 23-year-old Joe Gomez.
Joël Matip’s age and injury record, though, could at least mean the club would be open to finding the classy veteran a new home on the continent should he not wish to be pushed too far down the depth chart by a significant new arrival.
There’s also the question of Ozan Kabak, just 21 years of age and increasingly looking settled in Liverpool’s backline after a January arrival on loan from Schalke with a bargain purchase option. At most, Konaté’s arrival would only leave room for one.
It would also push the likes of Nat Phillips and Ben Davies to at best fifth choice on the depth chart, forcing at least one to move on. It’s clear, though, the Reds need a significant signing at the position—and Konaté would certainly be that.