Liverpool transfer news: Ibrahima Konate could be Virgil van Dijk’s long term successor

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The Bundesliga is Jurgen Klopp’s favourite place to shop. It was only a few months ago in the January transfer window that he looked to the division to solve Liverpool’s defensive crisis, with Ozan Kabak arriving from Schalke. Now it seems Klopp will walk down the Bundesliga aisle of the transfer supermarket to sign another centre back.

According to widespread reports over the last week, Liverpool are close to completing a deal for Ibrahima Konate with the RB Leipzig defender set to make the move to Merseyside this summer. Klopp is believed to have followed the 21-year-old for a number of seasons and views the French youngster as the ideal addition to his backline.

Konate will fill the one open spot in Klopp’s strongest XI - the secondary centre back position alongside Virgil van Dijk. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren have all, at one time or another, been van Dijk’s partner at the back and while all three have proved their worth it’s an area Liverpool could afford to upgrade in.

Liverpool have had their sights set on the RB Leipzig defence for some time, going back to his Sochaux days. Dayot Upamecano was consistently linked with a move to Anfield before Bayern Munich got a deal across the line before everyone else, but his centre back partner is just as impressive in what he offers. At a reported €35m, Liverpool have got themselves a real bargain in Konate.

Much like van Dijk, Konate is an excellent all-rounder. He is physically imposing, is fast across the ground, is strong in the air and is technically adept with the ball at his feet. There is good reason to believe the pair will mesh well together. Konate and van Dijk have the potential to be the most intimidating centre back pairing in the Premier League.

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The signing of Liverpool suggests they are already planning for life after van Dijk. Konate would be the natural successor to the Dutchman, who will turn 30 in July. Van Dijk could serve as the Frenchman’s mentor, learning from the best central defender of his generation before one day taking on the mantel himself.

Look at how Raphael Varane, signed by Real Madrid as a young prospect, was Sergio Ramos’ understudy for a number of years before stepping out from his teammate’s shadow. Ramos has been missing for the last few weeks through injury, but Real Madrid have managed to get by with Varane marshalling things in their captain’s absence. The relationship between Konate and van Dijk could have a similar dynamic.

Evolution is required to keep Liverpool at the top of the English and European game. That much has been clear in their underwhelming performances and results this season. The signing of Konate this summer could go some way to re-energising Klopp’s squad. Another season like this one won’t be tolerated.

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One concern for Liverpool is Konate’s chequered injury record. The 21-year-old has only started seven times in the Bundesliga this season. He has only started 21 league games alongside Upamecano out of a possible 132 games over the last three seasons, which has been a source of frustration for RB Leipzig.

Injuries have decimated Liverpool this season. Klopp won’t want another injury-prone player, especially a defender, in his squad, but the signing of Konate might be worth the risk. He has the potential to be one of the most accomplished central defenders in the game. Konate wouldn’t just be a partner for van Dijk. He could be the guy the Dutchman one day passes the baton to.

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