Liverpool could embark on an ambitious transfer plan but it would surely see Joel Matip leave. It all depends on the Reds’ mindset.
We’re sure you’ve seen the reports that Liverpool are close to signing Ibrahima Konate. The Athletic reported it yesterday morning and several outlets followed suit.
The deal would cost around £35m, securing Liverpool a young defender with elite potential. Konate is already capable of playing at the top level but at just 21, his ceiling is enormous.
But there are a couple of catches. Firstly, there’s the obvious one – Konate is still very young. He’s yet to arrive at a new club with all that pressure and throwing him into the deep end isn’t ideal.
Now, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will be first-choice, you’d imagine. But Liverpool would still expect Konate to deliver consistently at just 21.
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The other issue is his injury history. Konate has struggled badly in recent years and missed a lot of games.
There’s a real risk that those problems continue. And if they do, Liverpool aren’t getting the £35m they hope for – they’re getting an unreliable squad player.
They can offset the risk, though, by signing a more senior defender alongside Konate. Gazzetta dello Sport links Liverpool with a £42m move for Kalidou Koulibaly, for instance.
Now, we don’t expect Liverpool to sign both. But there is a way to justify it.
If Konate arrives for his potential, Liverpool could ease the pressure on him by signing someone like Koulibaly. The more senior defender would be the reliable one, both on the pitch and the treatment table.
That allows Konate to develop without any of the clear negative pressures around him.
There’s also the problem with having so many injury-ridden players. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all return from injury next season but we don’t know how fit they’ll be.
Add Konate to that group and you have four centre-backs with fitness concerns. Having someone like Koulibaly there, even for just a couple of years, would help out massively.
He’d prevent a worst-case scenario as we’ve seen this season.
But it would almost certainly see Matip leave Liverpool. Extracting a fee for him is the only way to financially justify things, while there would be little need for a fifth senior centre-back.
And Matip is the one you’d move on. Van Dijk is the star and Gomez the future – the Cameroonian, with all of his recent injury problems, would be the sacrifice.
We’re not sure Liverpool will go for two major defensive signings. But should they choose to, we do think there’s a way to justify it.