Liverpool’s top centre-back target Ibrahima Konate looked set to come to Anfield this summer for around £34 million.
However, a report from the Times says there’s a chance the deal could fall through. Despite Liverpool’s apparent willingness to pay his release clause, they want to pay it in instalments.
According to the report, however, the Bundesliga side is insistent the release clause is paid in full.
This is potentially a massive blow for Liverpool ahead of yet another vital transfer window. The Reds desperately need a new centre-back and Konate fits their play style beautifully.
As well as being tall and fast, he’s more than happy to progress the ball out of the back. Learning under Virgil van Dijk, and possibly partnering Joe Gomez in the future, he represented an excellent option.
If Liverpool and Leipzig can’t work out a payment structure for the fee, it makes life extremely difficult for the Reds in the transfer market. To get a player of his quality, for a fee that comparatively low is, if not impossible, extremely difficult.
The obvious option, of course, is to just buy out Ozan Kabak’s £18 million option from Schalke.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Kabak has by and large played well in his short time at Anfield. While not the biggest defender, he’s good in the air, composed on the ball, and is an excellent tackler. However, there is one area to his game that he seriously lacks.
One of the most important things Klopp will be looking for is recovery pace. This is one thing Kabak sadly doesn’t have a lot of. The principal tactic opposition teams usually go with against Liverpool is to hit balls over Liverpool’s backline and run in behind.
Kabak has shown he is vulnerable to this kind of ball multiple times this season.
The £18 million option does represent great value, however. Even with a lack of recovery pace, Jurgen Klopp could adjust Liverpool’s system to adapt. Manchester City have similarly adapted their system to help out their defence.
Moving two midfielders slightly deeper, they’ve restricted space for opposition teams to run into.
Jurgen Klopp could make similar adjustments to help Kabak. They could drop the backline, bring in a creative player to place less pressure on the full-backs to attack. However, if Klopp goes with the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach’, Kabak is not as good an option as Konate.
Of course, the best option for Liverpool from an on-field perspective is to simply bring Konate in. However, Liverpool has some serious financial issues, and £34 million in one lump sum is a lot of money.
Bringing in Konate though will provide Liverpool with the sort of cover they need to make up these funds quickly in the future.