Liverpool made a big splash in the transfer market last summer when they signed Ibrahima Konaté from RB Leipzig, adding one of Europe’s most highly rated young centre halves to their defensive roster.
In the months since, Konaté has lived up to his reputation, even if he hasn’t been a nailed-on starter. The player, though, always knew that joining the Reds would mean having to fight for and earn his minutes.
“I said, ‘Yes, if you come here, it will not be easy,’” Konaté said of the challenge he knew he was taking on when he decided to join Liverpool. “But I know myself, I know I love to work, and I love the challenge.
“I know at Leipzig for sure I will play all the games in the season, but is this good for me or not? Because maybe at Leipzig I would not [have to] work more. If I go to Liverpool, you don’t have the choice.
“If you don’t play you have to go to the gym more than the other players, work and maybe to become better than the other players. I said, ‘Yes, I need this.’ You need something that will keep pushing you every day.”
Konaté, who turned 22 in May, has so far made seven appearances and payed 630 minutes, and while Joël Matip remains first choice to partner with Virgil van Dijk, it seems clear that Konaté isn’t far off from that level.
With the Reds playing two games a week for the foreseeable future, he’s certain to add to his playing time tally—though his focus remains simply on working hard and enjoying being part of a high quality group.
“I am very happy to be here,” the young Frenchman added. “When we are in the dressing room we love everybody, and I think we don’t have players with arrogance, we don’t have this here, and I love this.
“I think this is a [squad] for the level of the final of the Champions League. If you train with them every day, of course you will grow and grow and you will be better every day.”