‘He’s quick, strong, dominant in the air… I’m excited!’ Jurgen Klopp reveals he has been a fan of £36m signing Ibrahima Konate for five years – and says the 22-year-old centre-back has huge potential
- Liverpool announced they’d finalised £36m signing of Ibrahima Konate on Friday
- Jurgen Klopp was gushing with praise for Konate after he joined from RB Leipzig
- The German boss said he is a complete centre-back and has ‘massive potential’
- He also revealed he had been tracking him since he was a teenager at Sochaux
Jurgen Klopp has revealed he has been an admirer of new £36million signing Ibrahima Konate for five years and talked up the 22-year-old’s ‘massive potential’ after his move from RB Leipzig was confirmed on Friday.
Klopp admitted it was vital that they strengthened in defence this summer after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip derailed their season last term.
A number of centre-backs were considered before Liverpool moved for the highly-rated Konate, who joins them on a long-term contract, as Klopp finally got his man.
Liverpool announced the signing of RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate on Friday
Jurgen Klopp has been tracking Konate for some years and said he has ‘massive potential’
The Liverpool boss has been tracking Konate since the early days of his career at Sochaux, where he spent three years before joining Leipzig in 2017.
Although Klopp views the France Under-21 international as an important part of the club’s future, he also believes that Konate has all the tools and capabilities to slot straight into the first team and form a formidable partnership with first-choice centre-back van Dijk.
‘I’m really pleased we’ve been able to add a player of Ibrahima’s quality to our squad and he is someone I’ve admired for a long time, ever since I first became aware of his potential when he was at Sochaux,’ Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
The club confirmed the move on Friday afternoon via a short promo video on social media
Klopp said Konate is ‘quick, strong, dominant in the air’ and capable of ‘playing right away’
‘After the problems we had with injuries in the centre-half position last season, there’s no doubt it was clear it was an area of the team we needed to strengthen – but I first have to say that the job Nat [Phillips], Rhys [Williams] and Ozan [Kabak] did was incredible. Unbelievable really.
‘In Ibrahima we are signing a player who will add to the quality we already have here. His physical attributes are very impressive; he is quick, he is very strong and he is dominant in the air.
‘He comes to us after playing more than 90 times for Leipzig in the Bundesliga and European football. I’m sure that number would have been more but for some injury, but even so that means he already has experience of what it takes to compete in two outstandingly difficult competitions.
‘He also played for a team in the Champions League in high-pressure matches, who have a similar football vision to ourselves.’
A long-term injury to Virgil van Dijk last season exposed Liverpool’s lack of options in defence
Liverpool boss Klopp said he became aware of Konate (left) during his early years at Sochaux
Konate’s career stats
Club: Sochaux (2014-17)
Games: 13 Goals: 1 Assists: 0
Club: RB Leipzig (2017-2021)
Games: 95 Goals: 4 Assists: 1
Klopp continued: ‘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. 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.’
Konate, who had also attracted interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, comes to Anfield with a burgeoning reputation and helped Leipzig finished second in the Bundesliga last season.
His arrival will likely see back-up options like Phillips fall further down the pecking order, despite earning plaudits from Klopp this season for stepping up in van Dijk’s absence.
The 24-year-old was Liverpool’s surprise star of the season and recently outlined his desire to stay at the club and fight for his place in the team but could now be forced to move on.
Kabak, meanwhile, is set to return to Schalke this summer after Liverpool decided against taking up the £18m option to sign him permanently following his loan spell.
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