Liverpool complete signing of Preston centre-back Ben Davies

PA

Liverpool have taken a step towards solving their centre-back problems by completing the signing of Ben Davies from Preston, the PA news agency understands.

The 25-year-old underwent a medical on Monday before signing for an initial fee believed to be in the region of £500,000, plus structured add-ons.

Jurgen Klopp is also closing in on Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, with the two clubs close to agreeing an initial £1million loan fee with the option to buy for £18m at the end of the season.

Preston defender Ben Davies holds off Lewis Grabban
Preston defender Ben Davies holds off Lewis Grabban

Preston will benefit from a 20 per cent sell-on clause on any profit Liverpool make on any further transfer of Davies and also any England appearance.

North End will also get the 19-year-old defender Sepp Van Den Berg on loan for free, with the first option for a loan next season should he start a certain percentage of matches in the current campaign.

The cut-price deal may seem at odds with Liverpool’s status as Premier League champions but it is viewed within the club as a ‘Ragnar Klavan-type’ signing, the Estonia captain who moved to Anfield in 2016 for £4.2m and made 39 appearances over two seasons as a reliable back-up.

On Friday, manager Klopp said no club would sell him an £80m centre-back even if one was available and clubs, well aware of the Reds’ problems at the back, were quoting “crazy money” for players.

.@LFC manager Jurgen Klopp is looking for a long-term solution to his centre-back problem in the next few days but admits no-one will sell him an £80million defender now pic.twitter.com/FHS9o5YMi5

— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) January 29, 2021

Liverpool’s resources in central defence are currently stretched to the limit with Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez unlikely to play again this season due to serious knee injuries, while the injury-plagued Joel Matip was sidelined on Thursday by an ankle ligament problem which the club are yet to diagnosis the extent of.

Fabinho, who has stood in at the back for the majority of matches this season, will not return until Sunday’s visit of Manchester City and so fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson has had to fill in for the last four league matches.

Davies, a left-footed centre-back, was in the final six months of his contract and it had been expected he would sign a pre-agreement with Celtic to join them in the summer.

Liverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho together on the pitch
Liverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho together on the pitch

However, it emerged the reigning Scottish champions, currently 23 points behind Rangers at the top of the table, were planning to make a deadline-day offer to Preston and that prompted Liverpool to make their move.

Fellow Premier League sides Burnley and Sheffield United were also interested but Preston did not want to sell to their local rivals, and it is understood the player was not interested in either club due to their style of football.

Bournemouth, six points ahead of Preston in sixth place in the Championship, also wanted Davies as part of a double deal with Ben Pearson but only managed to sign the Lilywhites’ midfielder last week.

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