Liverpool star Ibrahima Konate has revealed how Sergio Ramos was his biggest influence growing up as a kid and that his main objective now is to “become better” than team-mate Virgil van Dijk. The Reds paid what was then a record price for a defender to bring in Van Dijk from Southampton back in January 2018.
Van Dijk was 26 years old at the time and has gone on to establish himself as one of the world’s best centre-backs. Now 32 years of age, questions are beginning to be asked about Van Dijk’s future at Anfield.
He remains the first choice under Jurgen Klopp and has little under two years left on his current contract. Liverpool have undergone a transitional period over the past 18 months with the midfield and attacking departments being overhauled.
Changing things in defence appears to be next on Liverpool’s wishlist, with Joel Matip set to leave the club next year. Van Dijk may also face questions over his future, but Liverpool may have already signed the Dutchman’s eventual replacement in the shape of Konate.
The Frenchman has impressed when fully fit and is seen as the first choice to start alongside Van Dijk. And he’s revealed his lofty ambitions to become even better than his decorated team-mate by using Ramos as his No 1 inspiration.
“Very few defenders have managed to do what Van Dijk has done,” Konate said. “He is a great defender, from whom I am learning a lot.
“Now, my objective, and he knows it, is to become better than him. Sergio Ramos, who I followed a lot was my No 1 model.”
Liverpool will no doubt hope that Konate can continue on his hopeful path of emulating, even succeeding, the kind of career Van Dijk has enjoyed so far. But Van Dijk remains at the top of his game for the Anfield outfit and will unlikely need replacing for a good few years still.
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Konate already appears set on filling that role for Liverpool and emulating his game on Ramos will only benefit Klopp’s side in the long run. If the France international can come close to the same kind of career Ramos enjoyed then Liverpool will have found themselves a bargain.
Trying to find an eventual replacement for Van Dijk will be no mean feat either, but Konate’s £36m cost could represent a huge bargain if he steps into the Dutchman’s shoes. Liverpool would have likely expected to have spent another £75m on a top defender to take Van Dijk’s place in the team in the future.
But Konate being £39m cheaper means Liverpool can use that money elsewhere in the squad.
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