Soccer

Dayot Upamecano is Liverpool’s ‘top defensive target’ but January problem faced

RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano is at the top of Liverpool’s wish list following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, according to reports.

Jurgen Klopp has been dealt a defensive crisis at Anfield this season, first losing star man Van Dijk to a serious ACL injury in last month’s 2-2 draw away at Everton.

Joel Matip’s fitness has also proved an issue, while makeshift centre-half Fabinho picked up a hamstring problem while filling in at the back against FC Midtjylland at the end of October.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Joe Gomez has now sustained a knee injury on international duty with England.

While his season is not necessarily over like Van Dijk’s, it remains to be seen how long Gomez will spend on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on Thursday morning.

According to The Athletic, Liverpool were already planning to dip into next summer’s transfer market for a new defender – with Upamecano their top target.

The Premier League champions may be forced to accelerate those plans and carry out business in January given their desperate defensive situation, yet Upamecano will be available for just £40million at the end of the season due to a clause in his Leipzig contract.

Reds chiefs and Klopp therefore have a conundrum on their hands: break the bank to try and sign the 22-year-old in just over a month’s time or hold fire and target a cheaper deal next summer.

Upamecano is widely considered one of the most promising defenders in European football after playing a pivotal role in Leipzig’s run to last season’s Champions League semi-finals.

He has already made 118 appearances for the German club, while also earning three caps for his native France.

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It is believed Liverpool are also interested in signing Brighton defender Ben White, although there could be better value for money abroad given his reported £50million price tag.

Schalke’s Ozan Kabak has been touted as another option for the Reds, while Torino’s Gleison Bremer is also understood to be on their radar.

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