Liverpool have been told they are signing one of European football’s best defenders in Ibrahima Konate and he will prove a huge success for Jurgen Klopp’s side after they secured the Frenchman’s signature last week.
Konate has been linked heavily with Liverpool in recent months as they look to strengthen in defence. That confirmation finally arrived on Friday when it was announced they had triggered his exit clause in his RB Leipzig deal. He will officially become a Liverpool player on July 1.
The Premier League giants have revealed that Konate has passed a medical and signed a long-term contract.
Konate said: “I’m really happy to be joining such a massive club like Liverpool.
“It’s a really exciting moment for me and my family. I am really looking forward to meeting my new teammates, the staff and getting started on this new chapter.”
The 6ft 4in Frenchman has emerged as one of the most aerial dominant defenders in European football. Indeed, he won 78% of his aerial battles in the season just finished – second only to Bruno Alves across the top five European leagues.
He will compete with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk for a place in Liverpool’s defence.
And German transfer expert Raphael Honigstein has told the Reds they are signing one of the best.
“He is a very technical centre-back,” Honigstein told the official Liverpool website.
“In terms of his development as a player, I think it has been pretty good. When you consider the fact that was the first big club he played for and he has gone from a player that was picked up for free to a player seen as the solution to one of Liverpool’s problems next season.
“He is just a top, an absolute top player. If it’s true that centre-backs, a little bit like centre-forwards, tend to mature a little bit later. I guess [Virgil] van Dijk is a very good example of that. In which case, then the ceiling is still very, very high for him.
“I think there’s a lot more he can achieve and he can personally aspire to. So, top buy, in my view.”
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The good news for Liverpool is that Konate is already a fluent English speaker. As such Honigstein reckons he will quickly adjust the demands of the Premier League.
“There’s always a bit of adjustment of course when you come to the Premier League,” he added. “Liverpool play a similar game to Leipzig in many ways, with the high line and the pressing. But of course it’s still slightly different.
“I think he is ready to play at this level. I think the valuation that Leipzig had on him is realistic. It shows you what kind of position he has achieved in terms of his future.
“I think Leipzig always knew to a certain extent that he was going to attract huge interest, which is why this release clause was put there in the first place. I think they knew all along that Leipzig wasn’t going to be his last stop, he was destined for very great things, I think.”
Konate to become Liverpool regular
Honigstein is confident that Konate will improve hugely under Klopp and will prove an astute signing for the Reds.
“It certainly helps if you win the Champions League and you win the Premier League. And if you have a reputation for, perhaps more importantly to him, developing players,” he says of Liverpool securing a deal for Konate.
“Very few players go to Liverpool and don’t improve since Klopp has arrived. There is the odd one, but by and large players tend to get better. I think that’s another reason that he wanted to go there.
“Klopp, being a former centre-back himself even though he is always very modest about his playing career, has been pretty good at getting a lot out of his defenders – whenever they’re fit, of course. Konate will have seen the development some of these players have made, even if you look at what’s happened to Nat Phillips since he moved back.”
Konate is being tipped to not just put pressure on Van Dijk and Gomez, but ultimately replace one of them as a regular.
“I think he’ll just feel very confident that he can become a) a regular, b) a very important player for this team, and c) that Klopp will help him to become the best he can be.
“I think that definition of what the best is: there is a very, very high potential there,” Honigstein concluded.