It’s no secret Ibrahima Konaté is a top centre backs, with Liverpool fans convinced by the player’s quality from the moment the club triggered his £36M release clause and the 24-year-old French defender arrived from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2021.
Following the injury to Joël Matip after the veteran started the year as first choice, though, Konaté has been called upon to step up and once again show those qualities. And he’s done just that, slotting in alongside captain Virgil van Dijk and excelling.
“He’s an outstanding defender,” Van Dijk said of his defensive partner. “He has everything a modern-day footballer needs to be at the absolute top of centre backs. There’s a lot of demands from us. We play with the ball, keep a high line, you need the pace.
“He’s doing it well. It’s about getting used to playing every three days, looking after your body, managing games and training sessions, and when to do certain things. I speak a lot with him about things. He’s still learning and he can be even better than he is.”
Given how good Konaté looks now, most would probably be happy for him just to prove he can withstand those playing every three days demands on his body that increasingly appear to have become a quite entirely inextricable part of modern-day football.
That, and not his talents as a defender, his calm passing and his imposing physical game and intelligent positioning, has only ever been the one real question mark, and with Matip sidelined there is a real opportunity to do so—for him or, perhaps, another.
“Same goes with Jarell Quansah,” Van Dijk added of the other, even younger, defender who has been given increasing chances to impress this season. “I just look to share my experiences. I’ve been in the game for quite a while now and been quite successful.
“I try to give that to the young players. These players are even better than I was, but obviously it’s about doing it in the long run. I’m pleased with how he is now but he can be even better, he can progress. It’s nice to see the progression and development.”