Who: Ibrahima Konate
From Where: RB Leipzig
To Where: Liverpool
For How Much: €41.5 million
Grade For Liverpool: C
Grade for RB Leipzig: A
Ibrahima Konate Transfer to Liverpool Overview
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp used over 20 center-back pairings during the 2020-21 season.
To help solidify their backline, Liverpool triggered the €41.5 million release clause on in-demand RB Leipzig center-back Konate. The signing fits Liverpool’s general model: get talent right at or right before their prime from a club noted for developing quality players.
Who Is Ibrahima Konate?
At nearly 6’4, the 22 year-old Frenchman is a physical presence in the middle. He’s strong on aerials (though not “Nat Phillips strong”) and a decent passer, which is important for a squad that builds from the back like Liverpool.
What’s concerning is Konate has an injury history.
He only played a total of 14 Bundesliga matches last season (and only 8 starts). Konate had suffered a muscle tear that kept him out of action for a year (From October 2019 through October 2020).
Regardless, Konate comes from the RB Leipzig development machine. He’s highly regarded. As you’d expect, he’s a threat on set pieces and stellar defending against them. However, his got room to grow on tackling and tracking, which, you know, is important for defender.
Is the price fair?
Given the injury history, as well as depressed economics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this one feels on the high side.
What impact should we expect?
This one is tricky.
When a club signs someone at that price, they plan to plug him into the starting XI as soon as possible. In theory, he’ll be a formidable pair with Virgil van Dijk.
However, Liverpool have Joe Gomez also coming back from injury. Nat Phillips absolutely proved himself worthy of regular squad time as well.
Konate will certainly have to earn his time. It’s reasonable to expect that Konate will not be an immediate starter. New signings tend to need time to assimilate into Klopp’s style of play. Given Konate’s muscle injury history, the Reds may elect to ease him in even more slowly.
This grade can certainly improve if Konate turns in a healthy and productive season. And it’s hard to fault Liverpool for wanting to solidify their center-back situation after this season.
If (of course a big if) Liverpool have all their current center-backs healthy, that’s some legitimate depth. For the price tag, spending on attacking options would seem a better use of funds.
Maybe Liverpool sell Joel Matip and even Joe Gomez now. And Konate is most likely going to be groomed as the heir to VVD, which is wise. We’ll have to wait and see what other transfer dominoes fall now for Liverpool. Who gets sold? And will they still target a similarly-priced attacking option?
RB Leipzig: A
Let’s not over-think this. RBL secured a hefty sum for an oft-injured player. That’s an A.