Liverpool seal £36m deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konaté

The 22-year-old central defender will officially become a Liverpool player on 1 July having finalised personal terms last month and passed a medical. Konaté, whose transfer is subject to international clearance and a work permit, was Jürgen Klopp’s first choice to strengthen the department that was blighted by injury last season.

Konaté is preparing for the European Under-21s Championship with France. His arrival means Liverpool will not take up the option to turn Ozan Kabak’s loan into a permanent £18m transfer from Schalke.

“I’m really happy to be joining such a massive club like Liverpool,” said the 6ft 4in Konaté. “It’s a really exciting moment for me and my family and I am really looking forward to meeting my new teammates, the staff and getting started on this new chapter.

“Right now, my focus is on the under-21 European championships with France, but after this competition I know I will be joining one of the best teams in the world and that gives me a great feeling. I have worked very hard for many years to get to this point, but I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at RB Leipzig and all the people I worked with there – the coaches, my teammates, the staff and especially the fans.”

Konaté topped Liverpool’s central defensive shortlist after a season in which they lost all three main options – Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip – to long-term injuries and finished with the unlikely pairing of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams helping the club to qualify for the Champions League.

“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to add a player of Ibrahima’s quality to our squad and he is someone I’ve admired for a long time,” said Klopp. “After the problems we had with injuries in the centre-half position last season, there’s no doubt it was clear it was an area of the team we needed to strengthen – but I first have to say that the job Nat, Rhys and Ozan did was incredible. Unbelievable really.

“In Ibrahima we are signing a player who will add to the quality we already have here. His physical attributes are very impressive; he is quick, he is very strong and he is dominant in the air. I am confident we are signing a player who can play for us right away, but he is a boy of 22 years of age who has room to improve because of his massive potential. I know that’s something he is eager to work on with us to become an even better player.”

The defender, who spent four years at Leipzig having graduated through Sochaux’s academy, had his own fitness problems last season that restricted him to eight Bundesliga starts. He made 95 appearances for the German club, who accepted the payment structure that Liverpool offered for his buyout clause.