RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is edging closer to a move to Liverpool with the 2019-20 Premier League champions ready to pay his €41.5 million release clause, sources have told ESPN.

Liverpool have struggled defensively this season as injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have reduced their options in the area.

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Sources have told ESPN that Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards has been monitoring Konate for years but that communication between the two clubs has increased since they met in the last round of the Champions League.

A Liverpool scout was watching Konate as early as January 2017 when made his senior debut for Sochaux in the French League Cup against AS Monaco.

Six months after his debut, Konate joined Leipzig on a free transfer after refusing a contract at Sochaux.

Liverpool aren’t the only club interested in the France Under-21 international with Chelsea and Manchester United also in contact about the player.

Sources have told ESPN, however, that Liverpool are in the lead for the promising centre-back.