Liverpool’s future at the back seems clear as they prepare for the post-Virgil van Dijk era. Reports link them with a major signing.
The Athletic claims that Liverpool are close to signing Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig. They’d pay around £35m for the player, activating a release clause.
Konate is a 21-year-old defender with both Bundesliga and Champions League experience. Getting that for £35m is great business – assuming he can overcome his injury issues.
Liverpool, though, must assume those issues are temporary. There’s no real reason to do the deal, otherwise, and that gives us confidence.
Because completing this deal sets Liverpool up for the future post-Virgil van Dijk.
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Next in line
Van Dijk won’t last forever, of course. He turns 30 this summer and likely only has three or four more years as a truly elite player.
Liverpool, though, need something beyond that. They’re fortunate that Van Dijk’s first-choice partner, Joe Gomez, helps.
Gomez is still just 23, yet he’s won virtually everything at club level. Honestly, there are very few defenders we’d swap him for.
And while Van Dijk may slow down over the next few years, Gomez should only get better. In theory, his prime comes right as the Dutchman bows out.
That’s truly wonderful for Liverpool. It presents a very clear and obvious transition to the next era, with the Reds needing to replace Gomez’s youth more than Van Dijk’s ability.
Konate should be that player. He’s only turns 22 in May and will be around Gomez’s current age when Van Dijk steps down.
That keeps this cycle going, if everything goes to plan. Gomez can take Van Dijk’s senior role and Konate the ‘understudy’.
It all relies heavily on the duo overcoming their respective injury issues, though. Otherwise, Liverpool really don’t have anything – just two injury-prone players who need a quality, reliable first-choice to partner.
But if both stay fit, Liverpool have the best possible way to follow the Van Dijk era.