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Konaté: “I Love the Challenge!”

The Reds’ summer signing does not mind being the new kid on the block.

Watford v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Despite what the current healthy options in midfield would suggest, and despite the loud noises regarding the alleged superiority of other teams, Liverpool have — on paper — arguably the deepest squad in the Premier League. The quality in depth available to Jürgen Klopp is phenomenal, and had it not been for a few freak injuries — Harvey Elliott’s ankle and Curtis Jones’ eye, in particular — it is likely the Reds’ league position would be in line with their talent and performances.

A position group where Liverpool have — unlike last year — avoided injuries entirely is centre-back, and Klopp has been able to rotate his players there, resulting in Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, and Ibrahima Konaté all featuring alongside Virgil van Dijk in the campaign thus far. The newest member of the crew doesn’t mind at all the fact that a locked-down starting position is nigh impossible to attain.

“It is not easy to come and play automatically at Liverpool,” said the 22-year old. “I know Jürgen, I know what he does and of course I need to work. I hope with time this [being selected] will be automatic. I will work for this.

“Everything is good. I love the challenge and, for sure, the Premier League is not the same as German football. The intensity is different and you have a lot of big players here. It is not easy, but we play football for that.”

Embracing the challenge of unseating a member of what was the best defensive unit in England between 2018-20 is the kind of mentality you expect from elite athletes brought in for big money, and Ibou’s ambitions do not stop at making his way into the team on a regular basis.

“Of course, who doesn’t have this ambition to win the Premier League? But for now I think we need to be focused game by game.

“We have Premier League, we have Champions League – we have lots of games, but with this team I think we can do a big thing this season. Winning both is not easy. But if we can, then why not?”

With top spot in Champions League Group B already secured after four games, the Reds will be able to focus completely on their domestic campaign until the knockout rounds begin in February, hopefully making up the four-point gap to leaders Chelsea in the process. Having a young, hungry, talented defender like Konaté as part of perhaps the strongest centre-back quartet in world football should undoubtedly help their cause.