Liverpool are reportedly close to finalising a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate to join this summer.
The centre-back is highly rated and is currently featuring for France at the European Under-21 Championship.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been without first choice defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for much of their Premier League title defence, which has fallen well short of expectations.
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The Athletic claims the Merseyside club’s pursuit of Konate is at an advanced stage and that they are likely to pay a release clause thought to be worth around £34m.
Konate has mostly been used as a substitute for the Bundesliga club recently following injury, with the likes of Dayot Upamecano (who is also leaving to join Bayern Munich), Lukas Klostermann and Nordi Mukiele keeping him out of the team, though he did feature at the back end of 2020, including in the 3-2 Champions League win over Manchester United in December.
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The defender began his professional career at Sochaux, making his first-team debut in 2017 before moving to Germany later that summer.
Liverpool have been short of cover at the back because of their injury issues, though Ozan Kabak joined on loan from Schalke in January, while Ben Davies came in from Preston - though he is yet to make his debut.
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Konate has flown slightly under the French radar. He never played in Ligue 1 (only 12 games in Ligue 2). Konate arrived six months after Upamecano in Leipzig, joining on a free transfer from Sochaux in 2017, so yes, this potential move is a surprise.
In France, we have a lot of very good and young central defenders: Jules Kounde, Upamecano, Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile, Jean-Clair Todibo, William Saliba. We don't talk much about Konate here because he has no experience in Ligue 1 or in the French team. With the U21 team, he is the third option behind Kounde and Badiashile. He did not play the first match of Euro U21 against Denmark, but did feature in the win over France.
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Konate is already a key player for Leipzig at such a young age, but he has struggled with injuries. Last season he played the first five Bundesliga games before tearing a muscle and was out for a long time. This season he was unable to play for a long period due to an ankle injury.
It means Upamecano remains the number one centre-back for Nagelsmann, who also has high-quality players like Klostermann, Mukiele, Marcel Halstenberg and Willi Orban who all can play alongside him. But with the departure of Upamecano, Konate should play a lot more minutes next season – if he stays healthy – even with the arrival of Mohamed Simakan.
Konate is great in one versus one situations and in the air, plus he is pretty quick for a centre-back too. He needs to improve with the ball, especially when starting attacks. and of course has major issues dealing with injuries.
His best position is at right centre-back. I think he would be an upgrade to Kabak or Davies at Liverpool because he has already proven his ability in the Champions League - he is a strong centre-back and does not make many mistakes - and I believe Jurgen Klopp would make him an even better player.
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