Liverpool: Milner trains in shorts despite cold weather
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Liverpool chief Michael Edwards could be forced into making a number of tough choices during the upcoming summer transfer window. The Reds have failed to mount a sustained Premier League title defence this season, leaving Jurgen Klopp in need of reinforcements across the pitch in order to stand a chance of improving his side’s fortunes next time around.
A main area of concern will be in central defence, with the prolonged absences of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip playing an important role in derailing the Merseyside club’s pre-season aim of successive domestic triumphs.
RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate has been heavily linked with a summer move to Anfield, with the 21-year-old impressing alongside Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano at the Bundesliga outfit this season.
Liverpool are said to have already established contact with Leipzig in an attempt to accelerate the process and beat the likes of Manchester United to the Frenchman’s signature.
It has been suggested that a move for Konate will cost the Reds around £34million, but Edwards could decide to seek a cheaper solution by exercising the club’s option to buy Ozan Kabak at the end of his half-season loan deal.
The Turkish defender was drafted in at the eleventh hour of the January transfer window to provide some much-needed cover at the back, and has recovered well from an initially shaky start to register five clean sheets in eight appearances.
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There is no question that Klopp would jump at the chance to sign both Konate and Kabak this summer, but it seems as though the German boss will need to pick a favourite ahead of the summer months.
Liverpool are ‘very unlikely’ to be able to finance moves for both players, meaning that a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later, according to Eurosport.
The report claims that the Reds are growing increasingly fond of Kabak, who would be available for just £18m this summer as per the loan-to-buy agreement with parent club Schalke.
The Bundesliga strugglers are facing relegation to the German second-tier at the end of the campaign, a development that would open the door for the defender to seek a new challenge.
With Liverpool able to save around £16m by pursuing Kabak over Konate, the situation is likely to provide Edwards and Klopp with some food for thought ahead of the summer window.
The former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz boss claimed last month that he has been more than happy with Kabak’s impact so far, suggesting that a future move for his services on a permanent basis could be on the cards.
However, he also stressed that the Turkey international is not yet the finished article and needs plenty of improvement in order to blossom into a world-class player.
“Ozan played really good from the first moment,” Klopp told reporters. “Did he play as good as he can or his best performance ever? Probably not.
“We spoke about Ben [Davies] and how difficult these kinds of things [settling in] are, but Ozan played pretty much immediately, that makes it really tricky.
“He tried to adapt and when you try to adapt in these moments you cannot be yourself naturally because you try to adapt to other people.
“It takes a while until you can do both, adapting to others and being yourself. But I’m completely happy with the performances so far and, of course, everybody knew he was 20 years old and an amazing talent.
“So, I don’t think it’s a problem that we cannot start him next to Virgil or Joel or Joe.”
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