Liverpool have officially completed the signing of central defender Ibrahima Konate for a fee of €35 million. The deal is the first of what could be an all-important summer for the Reds as they prepare to once again mount a title charge next season. A title charge is exactly what Liverpool fans should expect, too- especially after the Konate signing.
The central defender finally puts an end to Jurgen Klopp’s defensive woes. Now, if lightening does in fact strike twice and an injury crisis at the back occurs, there should be no need to turn to unproven academy players or midfielders. The signing is significant for the short-term and long-term of the squad.
It lays down a marker that they want to keep competing at the top. In previous years, Liverpool have sat back after success and, ultimately, paid the price, but last season was a much-needed wake-up call; an alarm that the squad needed strengthening. And, with this signing, the squad has indeed grown stronger.
Now, even if Ozan Kabak fails to complete a permanent move this summer, Klopp will have five adequate defenders at his disposal. This five being, of course, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Nat Phillips.
Ibrahima Konate Completes Liverpool Move
Accord Convenu ✅
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 28, 2021
Ibrahima Konate Won’t Be Perfect From the Get Go
Such is his tender age, Liverpool fans shouldn’t expect 22-year-old Ibrahima Konate to walk straight in and have a similar impact to Virgil van Dijk. The complexities of Jurgen Klopp’s system will likely see the former Leipzig man take time to transition. And, luckily, time is exactly what he’ll have; time to watch van Dijk and others and time to learn from them.
We saw Fabinho go through a significant transitional period at the start of his Liverpool career. Fans were left waiting for his debut until Klopp felt that he was ready. And it is because of that period, in which he was not rushed to jump straight in, that he is a key element in one of the best sides in the world.
Fabinho began his Liverpool career a player confined to the bench. Now, take him out, and the Liverpool midfield looks likely to collapse. So, allow Konate, if needed, to go through a similar period. After all, with everyone back and fighting fit, Klopp has the luxury of time to mould him into a world-class defender.
The fact is, after five month in red, Konate’s price tag of €35 million could be the bargain of the summer.
Experience in a High-Line
A high-line system combined with a relentless press can work wonders when done right. The problem is, however, that you need the correct tools to work such a complicated system. Van Dijk and Gomez usually work the system extremely well, but even they have struggled- just look at the 7-2 loss to Aston Villa.
The system itself was exposed in abundance last season when Liverpool were forced to play 19 different centre-back partnerships. As good as Nat Phillips is when it comes to old fashioned defensive work, he struggled with a lack of pace evident in a high-line. But Klopp simply had no choice. Eventually, that enforced decision paid off and Liverpool finished third, but the manager will be delighted to welcome Konate: A player who consistently played in a high-line at Leipzig.
The young defender has the pace plus the knowhow of the system to become a key asset at the back and maybe even challenge Joe Gomez. And, even if he fails to displace Gomez, such is the injury record of the Englishman, he’ll definitely get his opportunity to impress.
At Leipzig, playing in a similar tactical setup, Konate was part of the best defence in the Bundesliga- conceding just 32 goals. If he brings that form to Merseyside, Joe Gomez may well find himself displaced. For once, it seems as though Jurgen Klopp will be left with a positive defensive selection headache.
Ibrahima Konate will have a lot to learn, but, at the age of just 22, he’ll have plenty of time to become yet another player to find success under Klopp.
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