Liverpool have emerged as a potential suitor for Borussia Monchengladbach defender Ko Itakura. Known for their preference for release clause buys, Liverpool find the appeal in avoiding transfer bidding wars.
Under Jurgen Klopp’s management, Liverpool have acquired 25 senior players with over a year left on their contracts, and six of these deals have been facilitated by transfer release clauses.
In the previous season, half of Liverpool’s £150m midfield revamp was executed through such clauses, securing Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton & Hove Albion and Dominik Szoboszlai for £35m and £60m, respectively.
Liverpool’s history with the Red Bull group includes signings like Ibrahima Konate and Takumi Minamino, acquired after matching their £36m and £7.25m release clauses at RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg.
The pursuit of Naby Keita in 2017 saw Liverpool agreeing to meet his release clause, even though RB Leipzig had no immediate intention of selling. The deal, set to kick in after 12 months, culminated in a transfer fee of £52.75m in the summer of 2018.
During the same window, Liverpool activated a relegation release clause in Xherdan Shaqiri’s Stoke City contract, seizing the Swiss player for just £13.5m after Stoke City’s demotion to the Championship.
Ever diligent in the transfer market, Liverpool strategically cultivate relationships and meticulously explore contractual nuances. As the Reds plan to fortify their defense in the upcoming summer, a prospective opportunity may unfold.
Liverpool are linked with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ko Itakura, a former Manchester City prospect, with report from Germany suggest that the 26-year-old defender might be attainable at a cut-price rate at the season’s end.
Presently engaged in the Asian Cup with Japan alongside Wataru Endo, Itakura, recently recovering from injury, remains unavailable for transfer this month. Sky Germany reports that Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have both inquired about a future move, anticipating the activation of a release clause ranging from €10m to €15m at season end.
This translates to a potential fee between £8.6m and £12.9m, positioning Itakura as a cost-effective prospect for Liverpool’s purported interest.
While primarily a center-back, Itakura’s versatility to also play as a number six enhances his value at Anfield. Despite Klopp dismissing January pursuits for a new center-back after Joel Matip’s season-ending ACL injury, the club had initially sought such a player last summer. Jarell Quansah’s emergence mitigated the defensive gap, but with the Cameroonian’s contract expiring soon, defensive reinforcements are expected in the close-season.
The current first-choice defensive pairing at Anfield comprises Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate. While Klopp might hesitate to spend extravagantly, akin to the £75m on Van Dijk in January 2018, the opportunity to secure Itakura for less than £13m could prove alluring, especially if a replacement for Matip is on the agenda.
The Japanese player, Itakura, is under the representation of CAA Base, as per Transfermarkt. The agency is responsible for managing the interests of several individuals, including Quansah, Luke Chambers, James McConnell, Isaac Mabaya, and James Balagizi at Anfield. Additionally, they have a pre-existing working relationship with the Reds through former Liverpool defender Ben Davies.
Liverpool’s interest in Itakura is uncertain, given that the 26-year-old is not the sole center-back linked with the Reds. The ECHO recently reported that Sporting Lisbon’s Ousmane Diomande is another player under Liverpool’s watch.
Defensive signings for Liverpool are likely to be deferred until the summer. However, with ongoing scouting of Itakura, if the player impresses, his release clause presents the prospect of him becoming Liverpool’s latest release clause acquisition.
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