Liverpool face competition from Manchester United for 'prime target'

Liverpool face competition from Manchester United for transfer target Ko Itakura.

The Reds are known to be on the lookout for defensive reinforcements this year, with a host of names linked.

26-year-old Itakura is one such player, while it was recently revealed that the Borussia Monchengladbach star will have a summer release clause of between just €10-15m (£8.5-13m) – making him a vastly cheaper option than many other reported targets.

Earlier this month, Fabrizio Romano reported that Jurgen Klopp's side have scouted the Japan international 'multiple times' ahead of a possible move at the end of the season.

Adding to the speculation is the fact that Gladbach's sporting director is Nils Schmadtke, son of Jorg Schmadtke, who holds a similar position at Anfield.

Liverpool are unlikely have a clear route to sign Itakura, however.

Ko Itakura, ProShots

Tottenham have also been linked, while Football Transfers report that Manchester United are looking to steal a march on their rivals by making a move this month.

The report claims Itakura is a "prime target" for United, due to his relatively low price tag. Erik ten Hag's side are have been forced to operate within budgetary constraints, but remain on the lookout for defensive depth.

It is said that United are "determined to secure his services ahead of rivals", with Itakura seen as a player who can help implement the manager's passing vision, while providing competition for Raphael Varane.

Itakura, who joined Gladbach in 2022 and is under contract until 2026, is able to play at both centre back and in defensive midfield.

Though he spent time at Manchester City in his youth he never made a first-team appearance in England but rose to prominence internationally during the 2022 World Cup, where his performances for Japan led to him being included in both Marca and Sky Sport Italia's team of the group stage.

If signed by Liverpool, Itakura would be the third Japanese player to play for the men's team after Takumi Minamino and summer arrival Wataru Endo.

Anfield Watch has previously reported Liverpool's interest in another Japan international, Yukinari Sugawara, who plays as a full back for AZ.

Liverpool are known to be on the lookout for defensive reinforcements. A left-sided centre back is the priority for Jurgen Klopp's side, though Joel Matip's long-term injury and the current need for Joe Gomez to cover more than one position could mean more than one signing is required.

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