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big deal Liverpool announce their first signing of the summer with key decisions looming on big stars

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp via REUTERS/Alex Livesey

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp via REUTERS/Alex Livesey

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp via REUTERS/Alex Livesey

Liverpool have unveiled their first signing of the summer, with the club also considering their options on a list of potential targets.

The Sunday World broke the story that Liverpool had made RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate their top transfer target for this summer in mid-March, with news breaking on Friday morning that the transfer is now complete.

Liverpool were Konate's first choice club from the moment the Anfield club made their first moves to sign him in March, with confirmation that the deal is about to be finalised a huge boost to manager Jurgen Klopp.

"Liverpool Football Club have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig," read a statement on the club's website.

"The 22-year-old defender has agreed a long-term contract with the Reds from July 1, subject to international clearance and a successful work permit application process, after finalising terms and passing a medical.

Konate told Liverpoolfc.com: "I’m really happy to be joining such a massive club like Liverpool.

"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 U21 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.

"Your support helped me grow up during my time there and become not only a better player, but a better man and I will always be grateful for it."

With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all returning from injury for the start of next season, Konaté faces a battle to force his way into the first team.

"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, ever since I first became aware of his potential when he was at Sochaux," Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.

"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.

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"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.

"He comes to us after playing more than 90 times for Leipzig in the Bundesliga and European football. I'm sure that number would have been more but for some injury, but even so that means he already has experience of what it takes to compete in two outstandingly difficult competitions.

"He also played for a team in the Champions League in high-pressure matches, who have a similar football vision to ourselves.

"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.

"For me, that's really exciting because I have seen how good he is already and I'm looking forward to working with him when he joins up with us in pre-season."

The form of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams in the final weeks of the season ended Liverpool's plans to sign Ozan Kabak on a permanent basis after his loan spell from Schalke came to an end, with Klopp now well stocked with central defenders after an injury crisis wrecked his plans in the season that came to an end last Sunday.

Konate has always been at the top of Liverpool's list of potential summer signings and while other names are also on that list, including Brighton's Yves Bissouma, contract talks with existing player remain a priority.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Fabinho are in talks over extending their contracts at Liverpool and there will also need to be decisions made over what happens next with Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool will be keen to ensure he does not head into next season without signing a new contract, with his current deal set to expire in the summer of 2023.

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Jurgen Klopp lost Virgil Van Dijk to injury (Dave Thompson/PA)

Jurgen Klopp lost Virgil Van Dijk to injury (Dave Thompson/PA)

Jurgen Klopp lost Virgil Van Dijk to injury (Dave Thompson/PA)

Virgil van Dijk is also set to be offered a new contract by Liverpool, buy sundayworld.com understands talks over that deal have yet to get underway.

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