Just how much potential does Ibrahima Konate have? Liverpool’s new signing could become a star.
Ibrahima Konate is quite clearly a player of great potential. That’s why Liverpool will add him to their squad next season. But don’t take our word for it – Jurgen Klopp has been quick to point it out, too.
“I am confident we are signing a player who can play for us right away, but he is a boy of 22 years of age who has room to improve because of his massive potential,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “I know that’s something he is eager to work on with us to become an even better player.
“For me, that’s really exciting because I have seen how good he is already and I’m looking forward to working with him when he joins up with us in pre-season.”
So why does Konate have so much potential? What makes him standout?
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Ibrahima Konate and his ‘massive potential’
The easy answer is his age. Konate turned 22 just this week, meaning everything he’s accomplished up to this point was at 21 and under. And he’s accomplished quite a lot.
Konate has been competing at the top of the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig, holding his own in big games and delivering wins. He’s done the same in the Champions League, too.
Very, very few teams use centre-backs under 22. Virtually no top teams do.
Take the teams who finished in the Premier League’s European places last season. Precisely one centre-back aged 23 or under played at least 10 games – Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana.
Across the entire Premier League, only four centre-backs under 23 played 10 games of more. Fofana, West Brom’s Dara O’Shea, Sheffield United’s Ethan Ampadu (though, he played a significant number in midfield), and Leeds United’s Pascal Struijk.
Teams rarely trust very young players at the heart of their defence. The fact that Konate has that trust, as well as the proven quality, at his age is extremely rare. Even just having the ability to play at that level is unique – none of the mentioned players are Champions League level.
Add in his athleticism, physical presence and competence on the ball – there’s an awful lot to work with. Liverpool will hope they can squeeze all of that potential out of him.
We believe they want him as a long-term successor to Virgil van Dijk. That’s the kind of potential in mind here. It’ll take a lot of work to get him there but there are remarkably few players capable of reaching that level.
Konate, though, is undoubtedly one of them.