Sport Ibrahima Konate, Liverpools transfer shortlist and how he really compares to other targets – Liverpool Echo
April 1, 2021
Liverpool have been linked with a wide variety of different central defenders this season.
After experienced defender Dejan Lovren left last summer and without a replacement being signed, plus the injuries which have beset the Reds this season, it is now the one position in the Reds are guaranteed to strengthen this summer.
Ibrahima Konate has emerged as a target for
Liverpool this week, with the RB Leipzig defender featuring on a five-man shortlist as the Reds assess their options ahead of the summer.
Meanwhile, players such as Ben White, Duje Caleta-Car, Caglar Soyuncu, Dayot Upamecano and Sven Botman were reportedly on Liverpool’s shortlist at one stage or another, so how does Konate compare to those across a number of departments?
Let’s take a look to determine how the game of the French centre-back differs using numbers from Europe’s top five leagues from 2018 to now.
Firstly, aerial prowess; who of the players listed above is the best and worst when battling against opponents for balls in the air?
Konate ranks top in the aerial department, winning 113 of his 133 duels which leaves him with an impressive win rate of 77.4%, ahead of Caleta-Car in second and Upamecano – who signed for Bayern Munich recently – in third.
Konate is extremely strong in the air compared to other centre-backs linked to Liverpool
The 21-year-old is clearly a dominant presence similar to Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, which likely stems from his imposing 6-foot-4 frame, but he places second from bottom of the group for percentage of dribblers tackled ahead of only White, who has spent some time in midfield this season.
So what about when he’s in possession of the ball?
In the passing department, his contributions towards getting his team up the field and closer to the goal can be captured to an extent using progressive passes.
For context, a progressive pass is defined as a completed pass that moves the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least 10 yards from its furthest point in the last six passes, or a completed pass into the penalty box.
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Konate ranks fourth for progressive passes per 90 with his Leipzig defensive partner placing top
Konate appears a little less inclined to play adventurously on the ball compared to other names, ranking fourth overall with his Leipzig team-mate placing top.
In terms of switches of play – with those defined as passes that travel more than 40 yards of the width of the pitch – the Frenchman ranks bottom of the group on a per-90 basis, indicating that he’s not inclined to move the ball over long distances at the drop of a hat like Van Dijk, for example.
If he’s not much of a passing type, is Konate more inclined to carry the ball, then?
He’s been ranked below according to progressive carries per 90, with those defined as carries that move the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least five yards excluding the defending 40% of the pitch, or any carry into the penalty area.
Konate ranks third for progressive carries per 90 with his Leipzig defensive partner placing top
Only Upamecano and Botman show up as keener ball-carriers than Konate; he ranks third, although his carries do tend to be over shorter distances compared to Soyuncu – for example – who doesn’t carry the ball as often but when he does, he gains considerable forward ground.
Of the players listed, Konate is also the joint-youngest alongside Botman, and none of the players will reach the end of their current contract before he does in June 2023.
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It remains to be seen at this stage who will actually sign on the dotted line at Anfield, but it is clear that each player linked with a move has different pros and cons.
Konate looks to be the favourite, and his age, availability and aerial prowess live up to that tag, although it would be unreasonable to expect fireworks when he’s in possession based on how he’s performed over the past two to three years in Germany.
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