Leipzig star Konaté responds to Liverpool rumours
Ibrahima Konaté has been linked with a possible switch to Liverpool, but he is looking to the future with title-chasing RB Leipzig.
Ibrahima Konaté has cast fresh doubt on suggestions he will leave RB Leipzig to join Liverpool at the end of the season. The 21-year-old French defender is said to have a €40million (£34.8m) release clause in his contract and reports have claimed the Reds may activate that.
No phone call from Liverpool, says Konaté
However, Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche last month told Stats Perform News the move was "not an option" for Konaté to consider. Now, Konaté has spoken on the matter, telling German newspaper Bild: "I have a contract until 2023. And contracts are there to be fulfilled. There are often rumours in football and many believe them immediately. I or my agents did not get a call from Liverpool. I also have big goals with RB Leipzig: to get the best possible result in the Bundesliga, reach the cup final and the Under-21 European Championship with France."
Leipzig, sitting second in the Bundesliga, were facing a home assignment on Friday against Hoffenheim as they looked to put pressure on leaders Bayern Munich. Unlike Liverpool, whose hopes hang in the balance, Leipzig appear certain to be in the Champions League next season. Yet they will lose one star French defender when Dayot Upamecano defects to Bayern Munich at the end of the campaign, and to see another depart might be considered a body blow.
Konaté is already thinking about life at Leipzig after Upamecano leaves, insisting he wants to be appraised on his own merits rather than compared to the future Bayern star. "I don't want to be Dayot's successor. I'm me," he explained. "We both came to Leipzig in 2017 and played well together here. Unfortunately, our paths are now parting. I'll let Dayot have his new job and continue doing my thing here."
Injuries have got in the way of Konaté's progress and he has played in just 11 Bundesliga games this season, starting five times in the competition. In that time he has achieved a duel success rate of 68.66%, which is the third highest among defenders with more than 500 minutes on the pitch this season in Germany's top flight. Opta defines a duel as a '50-50 contest between two players of opposing sides'.
Konaté has also won 23 of his 26 aerial challenges in the Bundesliga during the current campaign, and three out of every four tackles. On the tackles front, Konaté has good examples to follow in the Leipzig ranks of players with strong success rates. Among defenders with over 500 minutes of action in the Bundesliga this term, Lukas Klostermann ranks first in the league with a 92.31 per cent rate (12 of 13 tackles won), while Upamecano is fourth with 81.82 per cent (27 of 33 won).