Konate move suggests Klopp's Liverpool rebuild is in full swing
Finally, something to talk about again!
It feels like Liverpool’s last game took place in approximately 2004, with the FA Cup quarter-finals and international break both things the Reds had no great interest in.
Thankfully, not only are the Premier League champions back in action again this weekend, making the trip to Arsenal, but they are also headline news on the transfer front.
According to The Athletic‘s reliable David Ornstein, Liverpool are in advanced talks with RB Leipzig over a move for Ibrahima Konate, having been linked numerous times in the past.
The Frenchman is widely considered to be one of the most promising young centre-backs in Europe, so the excitement surrounding his likely arrival at Anfield is justified.
Not only that, but frankly, the thought of any new defender coming in after the woes Jurgen Klopp has experienced in that area feels likely an almighty positive.
What Konate coming in suggests more than anything is that the Liverpool manager is now steadily planning a rebuild before our very eyes.
To say he is completely changing the team would be a huge overstatement, but there is a potential nucleus of top class talent that looks set to take over eventually.
At 21, Konate would represent someone capable of doing a job immediately – he has already made 89 appearances for Leipzig, despite injury problems – but also be a long-term acquisition who could hopefully be the mainstay of the team for the best part of a decade.
In Ozan Kabak, Liverpool also have a fellow 21-year-old whose temporary move could be made permanent this summer, having impressed in recent weeks.
There is no confirmation that both individuals will be Reds players this time next year, but it would be a surprise if they weren’t.
While both Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip turn this 30 this summer, it is also easy to forget that Joe Gomez is still only just approaching his 24th birthday.
Granted, his terrible misfortune in the injury department does cloud his future with a little bit of doubt, but assuming he can rid himself of these current woes, he looks the natural long-term leader of Liverpool’s back-line.
Then there’s Curtis Jones, who has been one of the few positives in a season full of forgettable moments, with the youngster leaping from academy hopeful to one of the Reds’ most forward-thinking, creative midfielders.
If Liverpool were to reach the Champions League final, there would be few issues with Jones starting, which speaks volumes about his development.
The Steven Gerrard comparisons will always exist – boyhood Liverpool fan, gifted youth product, etc – and while he is unlikely to ever reach the legendary former captain’s heights, he is arguably just as effective at the same age.
Diogo Jota is possibly the poster boy of the Klopp rebuild, however, joining from Wolves and immediately becoming one of the most important players at the club.
Still just 24, his peak shouldn’t arrive for several years and he looks set to be the man Liverpool’s attack is built around, once Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino eventually drift past their peak or move on, or both.
There is obviously the hope that a world-renowned name such as Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe comes in and headlines the next generation at Anfield, but that may be nothing more than wishful thinking.
Harvey Elliott is also a footballer of enormous promise who is expected to return to Liverpool next season, having taken the Championship by storm with Blackburn Rovers.
Only Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia (12) has more than Elliott’s 10 league assists, highlighting how much he has shone at such a young age.
This aforementioned quintet can be the core of players who help ensure Liverpool don’t sit still after this glorious period, not to mention the likes of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Naby Keita, all of whom are still at an age where they should be around for many years.
Of course, this is still largely a Liverpool team at its peak, despite everything that has happened this season, so this isn’t a case of writing off a plethora of world-class players in the next year or two.
Assuming Van Dijk returns the player he was, he won’t be going anywhere soon, while Salah, Mane and Firmino are all still in their 20s. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum have only just hit 30, while Thiago reaches that milestone next month.
When you see how the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez are performing well into their 30s, it goes to show how much Liverpool’s star names can still achieve at Anfield.
There will be a gradual change, however, and we will see individuals such Joel Matip, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri fazed out, and some more experienced current heads eventually relegated to squad roles.
Planning for the future and ensuring things don’t go stale is essential and this Konate news, coupled with the ever-improving brilliance of Kabak, Jones, Jota and Elliott, among others, is further proof that Klopp is working hard to prevent this.