Exclusive - Liverpool are ready to trigger their buy option in Ozan Kabak's loan contract after being impressed with his development in recent months.
The Reds had been tracking Kabak for a while and eventually pulled the trigger on a loan deal in January, bringing him in to help cover for the long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
As part of the deal, Liverpool paid a fee of around £1.5m upfront and negotiated the option to make it permanent in the summer for an extra £18m. Sources have now confirmed to 90min that Liverpool fully intend to trigger that option.
After a rocky start to life at Anfield, Kabak has settled in and proven himself ready for a permanent spot in Jurgen Klopp's squad. The 21-year-old has made nine appearances in all competitions thus far and has impressed more and more with each passing week.
It is understood that Klopp has been delighted with Kabak's development and feels as though the Turkey international will only continue to get better with more minutes under his belt, and it has left Liverpool ready to pay up for Kabak now while they have the chance.
Alongside Kabak, Liverpool are on the lookout for a second centre-back to bolster their shaky defence next season. It is not yet clear when Van Dijk and Gomez will be ready for regular minutes, and with doubts over Matip's long-term future at the club, Liverpool feel as though another centre-back would be a smart signing.
It's that uncertainty which prompted Liverpool to strike a deal for Ben Davies in January, but the 25-year-old is not seen as a viable long-term option at the back for the Reds.
There is interest in RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate, but as confirmed by reports in Germany, a deal is not close to completion and the Reds are continuing to consider all their options.
For Klopp, the most important thing is that he does not feel it is necessary to play either Fabinho or Jordan Henderson in defence next season. While both midfielders have done well in that role, club officials believe their absence in the heart of the pitch has only worsened their defensive problems this year.
Kabak's emergence has allowed Fabinho to return to the base of Liverpool's midfield, and Klopp wants another new face to ensure the Brazilian stays there next season.