Jurgen Klopp sought advice from long-time friend Ralf Rangnick ahead of signing Ibrahima Konate. That’s according to one Leipzig-based journalist.
Ibrahima Konate formally joins Liverpool next month. The Reds paid around £36m to sign him from RB Leipzig – his release clause.
It’s a lot of money for a young defender, certainly, but Konate’s potential appears huge. He’s already experienced in both the Champions League and Bundesliga, holding his own against top players before turning 22.
There really aren’t very many defenders playing at that level at that age. Let alone showing themselves to be as complete a defender as Konate.
Liverpool have an exciting one here, then. Though, it wasn’t always clear that Konate was the one to go for.
Dayot Upamecano, his defensive partner at Leizpig, was also up for grabs this summer. The choice between the two wasn’t an easy one, either, and that led to Jurgen Klopp asking advice from a long-time friend.
Ralf Rangnick on Konate
Ralf Rangnick worked closely with both Konate and Upamecano in his role as head of sport and development at Red Bull and as manager of RB Leipzig. He’s also someone who Klopp knows very well.
The duo led a new wave of coaching in Germany in the mid-2000s. They were both very similar in that neither came from a prominent playing background, while they’re also the two who popularised ‘Gegenpressing’.
The two are friends and so when Klopp was considering two Leipzig centre-backs, he apparently turned to Rangnick for advice.
That’s according to journalist Guido Schafer who talked to the Liverpool Echo this week. He explained that Klopp asked Rangnick who was better – Upamecano or Konate.
“Liverpool were in contact for many months,” said Schafer. “Klopp asked Ralf Rangnick a couple of years ago: ‘who is the better player: Dayot Upamecano or Konate?”
“Rangnick told Jurgen ‘when you are able to buy both, buy both’”.
As it turned out, Liverpool could only get one. Bayern Munich will get the other, having paid Upamecano’s release clause.
Buying both would have always been a little over the top, to be fair. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all still at the club – Liverpool didn’t need to spend £70m on two new centre-backs.
So we’ll trust that Konate is going to end up being the better of the two. Either way, Liverpool have secured themselves an incredibly promising player.