Liverpool identify their chief transfer target after Virgil van Dijk injury sparks change in transfer stance

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam. Photo credit: PA Wire via ANP.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam. Photo credit: PA Wire via ANP.

Sunday World

Liverpool have identified RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano as a chief transfer target as they look to fill the void left by the injury to Virgil van Dijk.

The Premier League champions are set to be without Van Dijk for the rest of this season after he damaged knee ligaments in a clash with Everton keeper Jordan Pickford last weekend.

Now they are set to step up their interest in 21-year-old Frenchman Upamecano, who was already on Liverpool's list of potential targets before Van Dijk's injury.

Sources in Germany have told the Sunday World that Leipzig are expecting Liverpool to make a move to sign their centre-back in January, with an offer in excess of £40m hard for them to turn down.

"It will be tough to find a quality player in January, it Liverpool need to do it if they want to keep their ambitions for this season on track," says Sunday World columnist and Anfield great John Aldridge.

"It might be that he needs to drop the defensive line back, try to play with a little more caution and look to the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to win matches and he tries to get to January 1st without too much damage inflicted on the season.

"The option of using Fabinho in that role looked decent when Van Dijk was in the mix, but they look horribly short in that key position now and it means a move into the transfer market might now be the only solution."

Upamecano recently put pen to paper on a new contract with RB Leipzig, committing himself to the club until 2023.

Yet there are suggestions that the deal included a €42m release clause that will be active next summer, so it remains to be seen whether the German side would consider selling one of their star men mid-way through the season.

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While Liverpool have not made any formal moves to sign Upamecano at this stage, he fits the age demographic of players recruited by the club in recent years and could be a valuable asset for the next decade if he is to arrive at Anfield.

A move for Upamecano would represent a change in transfer policy for Liverpool, after they opted not to sign a central defender despite the exit of Dejan Lovren last summer.

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