Liverpool have sent their scouts to watch Japan international Ko Itakura 'multiple times' according to Fabrizio Romano.
The 26-year-old Itakura currently plies his trade for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, who he joined back in 2022.
Prior to that, the centre back/defensive midfielder spent time at Schalke 04, Groningen and even Manchester City – his first port of call after leaving Japan in 2018. However, he never made a first-team appearance for the Premier League title holders.
According to transfer reporter Romano, Liverpool have been following Itakura's performances, with Reds' scouts sent to watch him 'multiple times'. Tottenham also are said to be interested as they seek defensive reinforcements.
🇯🇵 Ko Itakura, one to watch in 2024 as top clubs are monitoring Japanese CB.
Understand Liverpool have sent their scouts multiple times to follow Itakura’s performances.
Tottenham also monitored him as Ange Postecoglou wanted Ko at Celtic.
Release clause NOT valid in January. pic.twitter.com/E6Ce08dAd4
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 1, 2024
Romano adds that Itakura's release clause is not valid in January, though it is not said when it would come into effect or how much it is.
The Japan international's current contract at Gladbach runs until 2026.
Itakura, who is 188cm and right-footed, has made seven Bundesliga appearances so far this season, scoring twice.
He 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 teams of the group stage.
If signed, Itakura would be the third Japanese player to play for Liverpool men's team after Takumi Minamino and summer arrival Wataru Endo.
The latter has impressed since his surprise £16m move from Stuttgart this summer – even starting five times in just 13 days over the festive period, following Alexis Mac Allister's injury.
Meanwhile, 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, though whether the club will make any signings in January or wait until the summer window remains to be seen.
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.
Liverpool do have possible links to Gladbach, whose sporting director is Nils Schmadtke – the son of Liverpool's transfer chief Jorg Schmadtke.