Brighton centre-back Ben White is “being considered” as a potential summer signing by Liverpool, though it is unclear whether he would be an alternative to Ibrahima Konate.
White has been a long-term target for the Reds, having emerged as one of English football’s most outstanding young defensive talents while on loan at Leeds.
Now back at Brighton, the 23-year-old has experienced a mixed season so far as the Seagulls find themselves embroiled in the relegation battle, despite having conceded fewer goals than 10 other Premier League sides.
The former Southampton youth has been largely deployed at centre-back, but has also featured semi-regularly as a defensive midfielder, and once as right wing-back.
Buried in a report linking Sergio Aguero with a move to Chelsea, King reports that the Reds are “not at the table” when it comes to the departing Man City striker, with their “main aim” being to strengthen at centre-back.
RB Leipzig centre-back Konate is widely expected to make the switch to Merseyside, but no deal has been struck yet, and therefore it is possible that White is an alternative.
Liverpool have tracked White for a long period, with reports of ‘genuine interest’ emerging in 2019, while the following year it was claimed that Reds scout Andy O’Brien was watching him at “almost every single game” at Leeds.
But having signed a new four-year contract in September, after Brighton turned down a series of bids from Leeds, he may prove more difficult to sign than Konate, though their relegation would change the landscape significantly.
Konate has a £35.4 million release clause in his contract with Leipzig, and therefore negotiations are not required if Liverpool are willing to pay the full fee.
However, there is no guarantee the Frenchman will accept a move to Anfield – particularly if the Reds fail to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League – and that would be why a list of alternatives is being drawn up.
When claims of Liverpool’s approach for Konate arose last week, they were followed up by the insistence that the 21-year-old was simply on a five-man shortlist that also included current loanee Ozan Kabak.
The likes of Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car, David Carmo of Braga and Sven Botman of Lille were also mooted as possible targets, but it would certainly make sense if White was on the list.
There is, of course, the possibility that Liverpool sign two centre-backs this summer, in which case White could prove an alternative to Kabak, not Konate.