Liverpool to trigger Konate clause ‘within hours’ – and let Kabak go

Liverpool appear to have decided against signing Ozan Kabak on a permanent deal following reports RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is hours from agreeing his own Anfield transfer.

The Reds signed Kabak, 21, on loan from Schalke in early February to help ease their defensive crisis, with an £18million purchase option included in the Turkey international’s contract.

But Jurgen Klopp has opted to ignore that deal in favour of another Bundesliga youngster, Konate, whose release clause is understood to be worth £30m (€35m).

Journalist Fabrizio Romano tweeted Liverpool are on the verge of paying that sum to sign the 22-year-old, who looks set to leave the Red Bull Arena after four years in the Bundesliga.

The deal is at an advanced stage after Romano said Konate has already completed his medical with the Premier League giants, having agreed personal terms as far back as April 23.

Kabak will return to Schalke following his five-month spell on Merseyside, though the relegated outfit are said to still be shopping his talents in England and Germany.

The Miners finished bottom of the Bundesliga this season and will leave Germany’s top flight for the first time in 30 years.

Konate and Leipzig, meanwhile, finished second behind champions Bayern Munich, although injuries and competition restricted the Frenchman to just 21 appearances in all competitions.

Klopp’s defence was devastated after Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip were each sidelined through injuries for much of this campaign.

Liverpool still clung on to finish third and qualify for next season’s Champions League, sealing their spot with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on the last day of the domestic season.

The Reds also signed Ben Davies from Preston for a nominal fee during the winter transfer window, though the 25-year-old is still yet to make his debut for the club.

Konate won’t be the only major defensive departure from Leipzig this summer after Bayern Munich confirmed an agreement to sign Dayot Upamecano in February.

Liverpool still managed to concede the third-fewest goals in the Premier League this season, despite being forced to play much of the campaign without their top three centre-backs.

Konate looks set to challenge for a place in a rejuvenated Liverpool line-up next term, however. Gomez is unlikely to join England’s camp in time for Euro 2020, while Van Dijk has declared himself ineligible for the Netherlands as he focuses on his recovery at Anfield.

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