Liverpool move is NOT an option for Ibrahima Konate this summer, insists RB Leipzig chief… despite Jurgen Klopp seeking to wrap up £33m deal for in-demand centre back
- Liverpool are pushing ahead to finalise a £33million deal for Ibrahima Konate
- Konate has shone for Leipzig in Bundesliga since moving from Sochaux in 2017
- RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche has played down talk of an exit
- He said Konate has a ‘long contract’ and a move this summer is ‘not an option’
RB Leipzig have looked to play down Ibrahima Konate’s prospects of leaving for Liverpool this summer with sporting director Markus Krosche insisting a switch to Anfield is ‘not an option’.
Liverpool are hoping to finalise a £33million move for the French centre back as they look to bolster their defensive options following a difficult season at the back in which Jurgen Klopp has been without both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
But while noises on Monday were positive on a switch to the Premier League, Krosche has since come out to dismiss an exit for the highly-rated defender.
It is ‘not an option’ for Ibrahima Konate to leave this year, says RB Leipzig’s sporting director
Jurgen Klopp is looking to move quickly to bring in a centre back ahead of the summer window
‘I think that this is not an option for Ibu,’ Krosche said of Konate, who has made 15 appearances in all competitions this season and has a contract at Leipzig until June 2023.
‘He has a long contract with us and he knows what we mean to him and what he means to us.
‘He was unlucky last year as he had a long-term injury but this year he is developing well and he is an extremely important player that has a lot of potential.
RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche has said it is ‘not an option’ for Konate to depart
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk have both been sidelined with long-term injuries this campaign
‘We want to help him to develop further, and we play in Europe and have a very good team, so I don’t see a reason for him to leave us.’
Krosche and the rest of the RB Leipzig hierarchy have already sanctioned Dayot Upamecano’s exit this summer with the French centre back leaving for Bayern Munich.
That, in turn, could see them try to keep hold of Konate for a further year so as not to be left exposed defensively heading into another season of Champions League football in 2021-22.
Sportsmail understands that there is still a way to go on any deal for Konate and the move is not on the brink of completion, although he does top a list of candidates the club are looking at this summer.
With Leipzig not in a position of having to sell, as Krosche suggested, any buyer will have to pay Konate’s release clause of £33m (€40m), rather than trying to negotiate a lower asking price.
Konate in action against Manchester United in the Champions League in October last year
Leipzig, who sit second and four points off Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, are understood to be aware of interest in their centre back but if Liverpool choose to pay his release clause, no talks would be needed.
That said, Liverpool and Leipzig, who recently met in the Champions League, have a good relationship, dating back to when they did business for Naby Keita.
But there are still other considerations to take into account, including wages for the 21-year-old defender plus his role going forward at Anfield given the returns of Van Dijk and Gomez.
Furthermore, Liverpool face interest from Premier League rivals, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
The defender is currently in Hungary for the group stages of the Under-21 European Championship. France lost their opening match of the tournament 1-0 to Denmark but responded with a 2-0 victory over Russia on Sunday.
The central defender played against Russia on Sunday as France won at the tournament
They next face Iceland on Wednesday afternoon and a top-two finish in their group will carry them into the quarter-finals to be staged in May.
And Konate didn’t sound too enthusiastic about all the attention when the Liverpool story broke on Monday.
He told L’Equipe: ‘I woke up, I saw my phone ringing all over the place. I just wanted to tell them, “Hey, I played yesterday, I’m tired, leave me alone”.
‘Frankly, I don’t even watch this. We can’t focus on that, there are the Euros and then my return to the club. You have to focus on that and not on the external things.’
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