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“A Very Technical Centre-back”: Raphael Honigstein on Ibrahima Konate

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And there’s a lot more he can still achieve, says the German football expert.

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TSG Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Much is being written and said about the sensation that is / will be Ibrahima Konate, Liverpool’s first signing of the summer from RB Leipzig. And to the add to the hype, German writer Raphael Honigstein spoke to liverpoolfc.com with his thoughts on what makes the young defender special.

On his growth as a player at RB Leipzig:

“He is a very technical centre-back. In terms of his development as a player, I think it has been pretty good if you consider the fact that was the first big club he played for and he has gone from a player that was picked up for free to a player seen as the solution to one of Liverpool’s problems next season.

“He is just a top, an absolute top player. If it’s true that centre-backs, a little bit like centre-forwards, tend to mature a little bit later – and I guess [Virgil] van Dijk is a very good example of that – then the ceiling is still very, very high for him.

“I think there’s a lot more he can achieve and he can personally aspire to. So, top buy, in my view.”

On the transition to Premier League football:

“There’s always a bit of adjustment of course when you come to the Premier League. Liverpool play a similar game to Leipzig in many ways, with the high line and the pressing, but of course it’s still slightly different.

“I think he is ready to play at this level. I think the valuation that Leipzig had on him is realistic and it shows you what kind of position he has achieved in terms of his future.

“I think Leipzig always knew to a certain extent that he was going to attract huge interest, which is why this release clause was put there in the first place. I think they knew all along that Leipzig wasn’t going to be his last stop, he was destined for very great things, I think.”

On what attracted Konate to make the move to Liverpool:

“It certainly helps if you win the Champions League and you win the Premier League. And if you have a reputation for, perhaps more importantly to him, developing players.

“Very few players go to Liverpool and don’t improve since Klopp has arrived. There is the odd one, but by and large players tend to get better. I think that’s another reason that he wanted to go there.

“Klopp, being a former centre-back himself even though he is always very modest about his playing career, has been pretty good at getting a lot out of his defenders – whenever they’re fit, of course. Konate will have seen the development some of these players have made, even if you look at what’s happened to Nat Phillips since he moved back.

“I think he’ll just feel very confident that he can become a) a regular, b) a very important player for this team, and c) that Klopp will help him to become the best he can be.

“I think that definition of what the best is: there is a very, very high potential there.”

TLO’s own detailed scouting report on Konate, written by Audun, is available here.