Liverpool target with van Dijk qualities 'willing to join' Reds

Journalist and former teammate of Jürgen Klopp, Guido Schafer, has hinted that Ibrahima Konate would be open to a move to Anfield.
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Journalist Guido Schafer says Ibrahima Konate would be willing to join Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. 

The RB Leipzig defender has attracted interest from Europe's elite over the past couple of seasons. Liverpool have been amongst those clubs with their recent defensive frailties. 

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Schafer was full of praise for the French international:

"He is tall, fast, good technique and has very high-class potential." 

"He is a little bit of Virgil van Dijk.

"He is a great athlete, he has good speed and there are no silly tackles - he is an intelligent player. In the 100 metres, Konate is the fastest player in RB Leipzig. It is a potentially world-class package."

Still only 21, Konate has established himself as one of Europe's most exciting prospects

Still only 21, Konate has established himself as one of Europe's most exciting prospects

Following Upamecano's pre-contract agreement with Bayern Munich, Konate may follow suit with a move away from Leipzig this summer. 

"I think the release clause is €40m. It is a really good price for the player - he is only 21 years old and he is as good as Dayot Upamecano when he is fit. They are absolutely at the same level."

Importantly, however, do Liverpool want to sign the Frenchman? 

According to Rory Smith, that may be the case. Speaking on The Guardian's Football Weekly podcast, the journalist hinted at a possible move in the near future.

“I think Liverpool intend to sign a centre-back in the summer and I think that central defender is probably someone they will play against in the Champions League last 16. And I don’t think it’s going to be Dayot Upamecano.”

Unless the Reds are lining up a surprise move for Lukas Klostermann or Willi Orban, I think Smith's subtle clue was aimed at Konate.

The next question is: would the centre back want a move to Liverpool?

According to Schafer, it is fair to say he would be willing: "If Klopp will come and say ‘come to the Anfield Road’, I think Konate will say ‘yes’. Liverpool is one of the most famous clubs in the world and the crisis is not nice for the Reds and for Kloppo." 

"But when he says ‘come to us’, Ibrahima will say ‘yes, I want it, I love you’."

However, in recent years, there has been one glaring issue surrounding the Frenchman's career. Since the 2017/18 season, Konate has missed a total of 405 days through injury. 

"He had an injury around a year and a half ago and afterwards, he has not been in his real shape."

"Now, he is fit but not 100 per cent and he needs practice. They are just unlucky injuries but it is a worry for other clubs. When he is playing, he is playing really well, but he missed 40 matches in the last three years."

No one doubts Konate's natural ability, why else would he be so sought after? However, considering Liverpool's defensive injury crisis this season, does it make sense to sign such an injury-prone player - irrespective of his quality?

From what Schafer says, the Frenchman sounds like a "Klopp centre-back": quick, sensible and strong in the air. Considering his age and release clause, Konate may be a shrewd addition to Liverpool's squad.