KEY POINTS

  • Liverpool might extend its pursuit of a center-back in the summer
  • The Reds have turned their sights on Dayot Upamecano’s RB Leipzig teammate Ibrahima Konate, a journalist said
  • Manchester United and Tottenham are reportedly also keen on signing Konate

Liverpool could still be headhunting a well-rounded center-back, but it is unlikely that the club will continue pursuing RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, a report suggests.

The reigning English Premier League champions have been consistently linked to a move for Upamecano with Jurgen Klopp keen on signing a center-back.

However, things may have taken a huge turn at Anfield as New York Times journalist and transfer insider Rory Smith hinted that Liverpool instead could be interested in getting Leipzig’s other center-back, Ibrahima Konate, at the end of the season.

"I think Liverpool intend to sign a center-back in the summer and I think that central defender is probably someone they will play against in the Champions League last-16. And I don't think it's going to be Dayot Upamecano,” Smith recently said on The Guardian’s “Football Weekly” podcast.

“The club’s principal and policy is ‘If we can’t get the exact player we want then we are not going to sign anybody’ – and that has worked for them brilliantly,” he continued, suggesting a move for Konate in the summer. “I don’t think it’s (something) to do with money not being available to [Jurgen] Klopp."

Ahead of his potential move to Anfield, Konate has already been deemed “fit” for Liverpool, 90min noted.

The report added that with Reds’ star center-back Virgil van Dijk expected to return next season, Klopp’s side is unlikely to sign a first-team caliber player. Instead, Liverpool will go for a “promising” backup defender like Konate, who has the potential to become a regular starter in the future.

Virgil van Dijk (left)was forced off injured by a late challenge from Jordan Pickford (centre) Virgil van Dijk (left)was forced off injured by a late challenge from Jordan Pickford (centre) Photo: POOL / Peter Byrne

Konate’s form in Leipzig did not go unnoticed as apart from Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are also keen on making a swoop for the 21-year-old, according to Christian Falk of German outlet Bild.

“Of course he’s in great demand,” Falk said of Konate. “But he’s also got an exit clause of around €30 million ($36 million) plus that can be made possible this summer. Liverpool know that, [Manchester] United know that and Tottenham too.”

“Leipzig have to be prepared for an exciting summer transfer window if they are to avoid losing two center-backs come the end of it,” he added.

Liverpool manager Klopp had previously admitted the need to bolster his squad with a center-back, but the financial crisis has been hindering his plans.

“We talk about a center-half, and yes, it would help 100%,” Klopp admitted. “We discuss the situation pretty much on a daily basis, and I make recommendations. But I cannot spend the money. I don’t make these decisions. There are people who are responsible for the whole thing, and I cannot make their decisions.”

Jurgen Klopp (left) takes his side to play Carlo Ancelotti's Everton this weekend Jurgen Klopp (left) is undergoing injury woes at Liverpool at the moment Photo: AFP / Alberto PIZZOLI