Ignazio Abate
Liverpool target Ignazio Abate as Glen Johnson's replacement Reuters

Liverpool are reportedly targeting AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate as they search for a replacement for right-back Glen Johnson, who is set to leave Liverpool in the summer.

The Reds defender has failed to reach an agreement with the club over a new contract and will leave following the expiry of his contract in the summer.

Brendan Rodgers has already made a list of targets to replace the England international and has kept tabs on the Italian defender, who will also be a free agent next summer as he has failed to agree a new deal with the Serie A club.

On the other hand, the Northern Irishman could make a cut price move for the AC Milan defender in January, as Liverpool will be keen to recoup some of the cash they spent on Johnson and may try offloading him in January, instead of letting him go on a free in the summer.

The Liverpool defender is also aware that the Reds could try and offload him, but he can simply wait till the summer and move to a club of his choosing.

However, the 27-year-old Italian international is keen to remain with his current employers, but is open to a move abroad if a satisfactory agreement for an extension cannot be reached with the Serie A giants.

Apart from the Italian defender, the report claims that Rodgers has also had Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward watched, but that transfer looks unlikely as the defender is close to agreeing a new deal at Selhurst Park.

Abate has started the season well for Milan, and despite being a full-back, he has already provided four assists in seven league games. That statistic will be particularly interesting for the Liverpool manager and could tempt him to make a bid in January.