Liverpool’s transfer record is unbelievable considering the variables involved in every transfer. Moreover, their record when it comes to buying CBs is sterling. Ibrahima Konate has kept this trend going
Virgil van Dijk tore his ACL in the season’s first Merseyside derby while Joe Gomez suffered a surgery-requiring knee injury while on duty with the England national team. Joel Matip had a characteristically injury-prone season.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 17, 2021
Fabinho and Jordan Henderson had to fill in at centre-back while youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams also had their opportunities. Winter signings Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak failed to showcase that they can be a long-term solution
Enter Ibrahima Konate. Liverpool agreed personal terms with Leipzig’s young defender and signed him in the next few days for a fee believed to be 32 million GBP.
Who is Ibrahima Konate?
A Sochaux youth product, Konate is another exemplifier of the Red Bull group’s excellent recruitment. He is a modern centre-back and is counted amongst Europe’s hottest young prospects. Along with his defensive partner Dayot Upamecano, Konate has been integral to Leipzig’s rise into Europe’s elite.
The 21-year-old is as comfortable on the ball as he is off it. Defensively, Konate is as stable as they come. He is a strong tackler and aerially dominant, making him a nightmare for strikers to play against. Moreover, he rarely makes mistakes – an immeasurable quality for a defender.
However, where Konate really shines through is his ball-carrying ability and linking defence with the attack. His strength makes him press-resistant, allowing him to brush past forwards. His pass completion percentage isn’t as high as Europe’s elite but that is partly down to playing more risky, line-breaking passes in an attacking Leipzig side.
Konate broke through three seasons ago in the Bundesliga. However, he completed less than 13 matches worth of playing time since the beginning of the 2019-20 season. He was been injury-prone in his last months at Leipzig as well and suffered a serious hip-flexor injury.
Ibrahima #Konaté's first time running since undergoing surgery on his hip flexor 🙌
Keep it up, Ibou! 💪
— RB Leipzig English 🏆 (@RBLeipzig_EN) August 18, 2020
Liverpool know a thing or two about injury-prone centre-backs but their injury record during this marathon season is something to marvel at. After a freak last season, Liverpool’s players have had barely any injuries and Konate has also benefitted from it. A fit and firing Konate has the potential to become a top-5 CB in the world.
Fit at Liverpool?
Klopp comes from the school of gegenpressing and Konate, from the RB school of playing, fits like a glove. Konate even showed in the Champions League final how perfectly he fits in the Liverpool backline. His pace allows him to play Klopp’s trademark high line and his ball-carrying abilities add another bow to Liverpool’s buildup from the back. Most importantly, he doesn’t trade-off either of those qualities for his imposing physical play.
Konate’s playing style is quite similar to that of van Dijk. Watford striker Troy Deeney said famously that he hated playing against the Dutchman because he was too big, too strong, too fast and to top it off he smelled lovely. Konate has all of the first three qualities, his perfume brand remains to be seen.