Having enjoyed a stellar first season in Liverpool that has really kicked into gear in 2022, Ibrahima Konate has a very bright future. The young defender has made up for a slow start to live at Anfield by scoring three crucial goals – one against Benfica, one against Manchester City in the FA Cup, and one against Benfica again. All three goals were the same – powerful headers from a left-sided corner. Now, he looks set to be among the key players that take the Reds to within touching distance of a potential quadruple.
However, this summer looks set to have some big decisions alongside hopeful celebrations for the former Paris FC man. Konate is one of three high-profile uncapped French players who are being pursued by Mali. The Malian national team is having a great moment at present, with some excellent young talent coming through the system. However, like other African nations, they intend to use their diaspora in other countries – especially France – to find some top-class talent.
Alongside Konate is Moussa Dembele, the former Celtic and current Olympique Lyonnais striker. Neither have been given senior France caps and thus could both move on from the French system and take chances with the Malian national side. Both players have exceptional talent and physical profiles, and would make an excellent choice for Mali.
Given the depth in the French system, too, it might be wise for both players to take the chance to get international gametime away from a stacked France side. The other player who is being linked with a switch is Abdoulaye Doucoure, the Everton midfielder who has also never been given a chance with the national team.
Decision time will likely be this summer, with all three headhunted by the Malian football association.
Konate set to play decisive role in Reds run-in?
Though Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk are the agreed starting pairing for most games, Konate has done more than most to oust ‘Billy’ Matip from the first-team starting XI. Though Matip offers a fine balance with van Dijk with his forward runs and his technical quality, Konate offers the strength and the ability to handle one-on-one duels in a way that Matip cannot.
Konate has also proven himself to be an effective goal threat, with three crucial goals in March alone. The powerhouse centre-half is expected to be a starting choice in the near future, with his ever-impressive form showing up on a regular basis now. He also brings an effervescent personality to the team, with most sources around the club suggesting his personality is as impressive as his performances.
For Liverpool, then, Konate looks like another high-price success story who should – and could – become an essential part of the growth of the club. As others such as Matip reach their 30s, Konate offers an intriguing link to the present and the future that Jurgen Klopp and co. can rely upon for years to come.
After a slow start to his Liverpool career, Konate could play a role in securing what would go down as among the best seasons in the clubs history if things continue as they are.