Liverpool initiate contact with defensive target Ko Itakura

Liverpool have initiated contact with Ko Itakura in an effort to convince the Japan international to join them, Anfield Watch has been told.

The Reds have intensified their pursuit of the versatile Borussia Monchengladbach star in response to interest from various European clubs, including their Premier League rivals, Manchester United.

Sources have indicated to Anfield Watch that representatives from Liverpool have engaged in discussions with the representatives of the 27-year-old defender to assess the feasibility of a move to the Anfield.

The future of Itakura, who was once on the books at Manchester City but never played a first-team game, has been a topic of internal discussions at Liverpool — as is Sporting CP's Goncalo Inacio, a player who was the subject of interest last summer and continues to be highly appreciated at Anfield.

Borussia Monchengladbach are unwilling to engage in talks with Liverpool until the summer. However, Itakura has expressed his desire to leave the club at the end of the season due to sustained interest from some of Europe's prominent clubs, including the Reds, who are keen on gaining an advantage over other potential suitors.

The centre back, who can also feature in midfield, possesses a release clause that becomes effective in the summer, allowing any interested club to secure his services for approximately £13m — making him a relative bargain in the market.

With the defence the main area of focus for Liverpool's recruitment team this year, Anfield Watch understands that the Reds also made enquiries about Bayer Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapie this month, but were denied the chance to advance a move in January by his club who are chasing their first ever Bundesliga title.

The Ecuador international is a target as a left-sided defender, a position which has been on Liverpool's agenda for some time.

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