Ibrahima Konaté signs for Liverpool: What will he bring to the Reds?
Liverpool already have the perfect defender in Virgil van Dijk.
In Ibrahima Konaté, they may have found the perfect partner. The Reds’ new signing will join up with the club after the Under-21 European Championship, where he will command from the back for tournament favourites France. Injury has blighted his recent seasons and that may be the biggest reason he will play for the French U21 side rather than the senior side this summer, as he would not look out of place playing alongside Raphael Varane or Clement Lenglet in Didier Deschamps’ team. Konaté is more of an old-school defender than Van Dijk, which is why the pairing could work so well at Anfield. He is fond of making challenges, clearances, and getting up close and personal with opposition defenders - which will contrast nicely with Van Dijk’s positional sense and ability to cut out passing lanes. Additionally, the 22-year-old centre-back provides a nice balance to Van Dijk’s accurate long-passing approach, as he tends to play simple short passes and often brings the ball out of defence rather than looking to play quick counter-attacks with medium- or long-range passing. Konaté’s ball-playing ability probably comes from his past as a forward, where he used to watch videos of Ronaldo to try to hone his craft. At his first club, Paris FC, he initially was used up front but eventually was shifted into defensive midfield where his reading of the game earned rave reviews and move to Sochaux. There, he moved position again and began to play centre-back, proving his ability against players twice his age and eventually coming onto the radar of RB Leipzig. The Red Bulls took a chance on the French second division player and it proved to be another wise signing. Although one of the quickest players in the Bundesliga, Konaté used his defensive abilities rather than his pace to stop attacks and when fit, was one of the most confident and comfortable defenders in the German top flight.
Those injury worries are the only red flag as he heads to Anfield, but if he can stay fit, Konaté could form the perfect partnership with Van Dijk.
Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul)