Ibrahima Konate admits his phone is ‘ringing everywhere’ after news of Liverpool’s £ 33m broke for him, but the RB Leipzig defender insists he is fully focused on France’s Under-21 Euro campaign.
Ibrahima Konate said his phone was ‘ringing everywhere’ when news of Liverpool’s £ 33m emerged for him, but insists he is fully focused on France’s Under-21 Euro campaign.
Looking to bolster their defensive options, Jurgen Klopp’s side have identified the 21-year-old RB Leipzig center-back as a primary target with hopes of closing a deal for the summer transfer window.
Sportsmail understands there is still some way to go before a deal is closed, but Konate does have a £ 40 million release clause in his Leipzig contract and the Bundesliga club will stick to that rather than negotiate.
Ibrahima Konate insists that despite Liverpool’s interest, he is fully focused on France Under-21
The central defender played against Russia on Sunday when France won the tournament
The defender is currently in Hungary for the group stage of the European Under-21 Championship. France lost their opening match of the tournament 1-0 to Denmark, but responded with a 2-0 victory over Russia on Sunday.
They will then face Iceland on Wednesday afternoon and a top-two finish in their group will take them to the quarter-finals that will take place in May.
And Konate didn’t sound too keen on all the attention when the Liverpool story broke on Monday.
He told The team: ‘I woke up, I saw my phone ringing everywhere. I just wanted to tell them, “Hey, I played yesterday, I’m tired, leave me alone.”
‘To be honest, I’m not even looking at 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 outer things. ‘
Konate impressed RB Leipzig, who is second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich
Jurgen Klopp is fast on the move to bring in a central defender for the summer period
Leipzig, who are second and four points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, is expected to be aware of interest in their center-back, but if Liverpool choose to pay for its release clause, no talks are needed.
But there are other considerations to consider, including the pay for the 21-year-old defender plus his future role at Anfield given Van Dijk and Gomez’s returns.
In addition, Liverpool faces competition from Premier League rivals including Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Other defenders followed by Liverpool include Villarreal’s 24-year-old Pau Torres.
Konate moved from French club Sochaux in 2017 and impressed in the heart of Leipzig’s defense, despite injuries that limited his playing time.
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk have both been sidelined this campaign with long-term injuries
The crisis at the back has plagued Liverpool’s title defense, with Klopp’s side in seventh place
Konate played less than 100 times for Leipzig, but he has aroused a lot of interest from a number of European giants.
And after gaining vital experience in both the Bundesliga and Champions League, Konate was expected to immediately compete for a spot in the first team with players like Van Dijk and Gomez.
But the Reds also see how valuable his signing could prove in the long run as they strive to fight at the top for years to come.
Liverpool brought in both Ozan Kabak – on loan with a purchase option – and Ben Davies in January.
But the Reds were likely to bring in a new center-back in the summer after their troubles this season.
Konate chides Neymar during the Champions League meeting with PSG in Leipzig
The 21-year-old tackles Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in December’s game
Both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been forced to fill in as center-backs, which has cost them a lot of money in midfield.
And this imbalance of the whole squad has made Klopp’s men implode in the title race.
After storming to their first Premier League title last season, the Reds are now in danger of missing out on European football altogether.
The Anfield team is currently seventh in the top flight, five points over a rejuvenated Chelsea in fourth place.