It isn’t exactly a secret that Liverpool have long been admirers of RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konaté.
He was a key target for the summer transfer window. And Liverpool unveiled him as their first signing of the summer at the end of May, more than a month before he officially joins.
The French u21 international is touted as one of the stars of the future, having impressed alongside Bayern-bound Dayot Upamecano in the heart of Die Roten Bullen’s defence.
Liverpool fans can expect great things of their new central defender.
Konaté’s playing style
Konaté has been widely regarded as one of the most promising talents in his position in Europe since his arrival at Leipzig from Sochaux in 2017 on a free transfer.
He was thrown straight into the action in the Bundesliga making a major impact in his first season, as the Frenchman played 26 times. He’s gone on to make a further 71 appearances for the club since his first season.
This ability to adapt to a new country, team and tactical set-up at such a young age shows he has a strong mentality to go along with his obvious ability.
Fans of German football have been treated to some high-quality displays from the Frenchman. Standing at 6ft 4in, the defender has an impressive ability to win the ball in the air and is a threat from set-pieces – a quality valuable to Liverpool with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s crossing ability. Konaté’s only goal this season came from a dead ball situation.
Confident on the ball, the 22-year-old can often be found dribbling the ball from his defensive area of the pitch to progress the ball up the pitch and creating passing opportunities in positions of higher danger.
His ability to dribble on the ball is among the best in Europe. These progressive carries are very similar to what Liverpool already get from Joël Matip and Joe Gomez, evidenced by their penchant for confident runs with the ball from defence.
Passing is another key strength of the Frenchman. Konaté can often be found playing the ball forwards into dangerous areas, looking for the forwards in the penalty area.Embed from Getty Images
His ability to move the ball forwards and pass into a dangerous area is another quality that Liverpool could highly benefit from. This has been painfully demonstrated this season with the dramatic fall off in build up play due to the absence of Virgil van Dijk, who is instrumental to the Reds’ work in transition.
As mentioned, Konaté is one of the best dribblers among centre backs in Europe; his numbers show why. The Frenchman ranks among the top 2pc of centre-backs in Europe when it comes to dribbles completed per 90 – managing 0.84.
His impressive dribbling qualities can also be seen in his number of progressive carries where he is managing 4.4 per 90, 0.95 of which are into the final third. Konaté can beat a man too, dribbling past an opponent 0.91 times per 90 which also ranks him among the top 2pc of centre-backs in Europe.
Dribbling has never been so important for centre-backs, with the emphasis on being able to move the ball quickly up the pitch through progressive carries and passes – the latter of which is another key tool in Konaté’s arsenal.
The France u21 international’s passes are completed over varying distances, but the large bulk come over a distance between 15 and 30 yards. This ability to pass the ball over a relatively long distance can be seen in the number of passes which are played into penetrative areas and in areas of pressure.
Konaté ranks in the top 17pc percent of central defenders for passes into the opposition penalty area. The former Sochaux man also manages 6.28 passes under pressure per 90 whilst playing 3.42 progressive passes per 90.
This ability to pass the ball into dangerous positions and, even more importantly, under pressure, is a great asset that Liverpool will benefit from with the high line Jürgen Klopp operates with in his tactical setup on the ball.Embed from Getty Images
Another important asset that Liverpool will benefit from with their high line is Konaté’s aerial ability. The Frenchman ranks in the top 1pc for aerial duel success rate with 78.7pc, whilst also winning 3.35 per 90.
These are all very impressive numbers in key areas that Liverpool will have looked at when searching for a central defensive target in the summer, making it no surprise Konaté is the man they have opted for.
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