Ibrahima Konate may be a colossus of a center back, one of defending World Cup Champion, France’s brightest young talents, and a player seemingly destined for stardom, but even he has still been taken aback by his experience playing for a club as globally renown as Liverpool.
Reds supporters worldwide welcomed the defender from RB Leipzig last year with open arms after their league title defense was left in tatters by a litany of center back injuries.
Michael Edwards, Jurgen Klopp and the transfer team identified the physically-imposing Frenchman as the ideal candidate to secure the next generation of their defense and quickly moved to beat out all other suitors. The Reds manager played a role in personally convincing the coveted starlet to join the Liverpool project, detailing his role in the side but also speaking on the passion of the global fanbase.
“I remember, before I signed, I had the coach on the phone,” Konate said speaking recently to Onze Mondial.
He said to me: ‘The day you sign for Liverpool, it will not be the same for you, your life will change.
“‘Wherever you travel in the world,’ [Klopp said] you will see for yourself what I am telling you.’ In my head I was thinking: ‘OK, fine, it’s an incredible club with a great history, but chill’.
“I traveled, I went to Zanzibar this summer, and I was taking at least 50 photos a day. And then his sentence came back into my head. I thought: ‘This is insane’.
“As a kid, I knew Liverpool was a big club, but I didn’t imagine it like this. It’s way above my expectations in every way.”
Liverpool supporters knew they had a potentially special player in the now-23-year-old when his thundering headers in each leg of last season’s Champions League quarterfinal against Benfica played an instrumental role in the Reds’ march to the final.
While a knee injury suffered in preseason has prevented him appearing for the side so far this campaign, the future remains bright in the heart of Klopp’s defense.
“Today I am at Liverpool, and the truth is, I hardly see a superior club.
“When you are here, you have everything: a great club, a great history, always in the running to win the Champions League, the Premier League and all the trophies with magnificent supporters.
“I’m 23 and it’s a club where I could end my career. This club is among the top three clubs in the world.
“But you also need quality to finish your career here!”