Liverpool are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with RB Leipzig for the signing of Ibrahima Konate.
The Reds have been plagued by an injury crisis in central defence for almost the entirety of the 2020/21 campaign and failed to cope with the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
A tepid title defence has shed light on Liverpool’s need to recruit new talent in this position, and it seems that the club have been working behind the scenes to secure one of Europe’s most promising defenders.
According to a report published by The Athletic on Monday morning, Liverpool are finalising a deal for Konate.
The 21-year-old France youth international has endured an injury-hit campaign and made just four Bundesliga starts as a result, but that has not deterred the Merseyside outfit from making a move.
The report claims that the deal is already at an advanced stage and any potential buyer will be expected to trigger his €40m (£34.2m) release clause to lure him away from east Germany.
In light of these reports, Liverpool fans will be wondering what type of player they’re likely to be welcoming to Anfield in the summer.
Konate hasn’t received the same level of clamour as his RB Leipzig teammate and compatriot Dayot Upamecano, who has been one of the most revered young defenders in world football since breaking through.
However, Konate’s fine collection of physical and technical attributes can help him to enjoy a similar level of status, particularly if he fulfils his massive potential in the Premier League.
Standing at 6ft 4in, the towering defender is a stark physical presence with the speed and strength to match some of the most devastating forwards in world football in a foot race – as Kylian Mbappe learned during Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League group stage encounter against RB Leipzig last season.
He’s also an excellent distributor of the ball and a confident dribbler on the front foot.
Those qualities regularly manifest both domestically and in Europe, and a video compilation posted on Twitter on Monday showed exactly what Konate is all about.
The video showcases his complete defensive repertoire and tendency to crop up with the occasional instinctive finish inside the penalty area.
Intriguingly, Konate has already drawn comparisons with Van Dijk, a player he could well be lining up alongside next season.
In a player profile piece published by Bundesliga.com, the Paris-born colossus was compared to the influential Netherlands international.
“Likening Konate to one of the best centre-backs in recent times (Van Dijk) may seem like a premature comparison. It’s not. There are few in the position who excel at so many aspects of the game as the young Frenchman.
“Whether it be in terms of positioning, sticking tight to the striker, intercepting passes, tackling or building from the back, Konate cannot just do it all, he makes it look easy.”
Meanwhile, the incredibly influential former RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick once tipped the defender to play for a club of Real Madrid or Barcelona’s stature.
Rangnick’s comments appear rather prophetic in light of the emerging reports on Monday.
For those Liverpool supporters who were none the wiser to Konate’s progress over in Germany, these endorsements and the stunning highlights reel will give them every reason to suggest that a £34.2m deal could prove to be another Michael Edwards masterstroke.
Now it’s time for Liverpool to get the deal over the line.