In the last 10 years, there has been only two real stars of world football. Two of the greatest players to ever grace the game in Messi and Ronaldo have been battling it out and have really had the spotlight on them. It has now been 13 years since Fabio Cannavaro won the Balon D’Or. It may just be a coincidence, but in the recent times, top quality centre backs have been in short supply. Aymeric Laporte and Virgil van Dijk were transferred for a total transfer fee of £132 million with such high demand. So from this, when new centre backs start to impress, the world takes note. Ibrahima Konate stats in a RB Leipzig shirt are attracting the eyes of some top clubs. Arsenal are the latest name, among some of the other biggest clubs in Europe
Ibrahima Konate stats – An interesting youth career
Konate was born in Paris in 1999, and quickly joined the Paris FC youth setup. From the age of 10 to 15 he rose through the ranks before signing to Sochaux FC. A team in the 2nd division of French football, Konate was able to get match time to develop his game. After one season for the B team, Konate joined the first team. At the age of just 17 he made his first team debut, in a Ligue 2 game. In his first season, the Frenchman made 12 appearances and even popped up with a goal.
The kid was good, and everyone knew it (unfortunately for Sochaux at least). A club that prides itself on it’s youth setup and producing quality players such as Jérôme Roussillon and Marcus Thuram, they offered a new contract. Konate, however, had other ideas. Much to the disappointment of his club, he signed a contract at RB Leipzig, and in the sumemer of 2017, moved over the border to Germany for £3 million to sign his professional contract
Ibrahima Konate stats – RB Leipzig
Konate has had a good start to life in Germany. His first season was a good learning curve, playing 1227 minutes of football. He had a great pass success rate of 81% and won 2.3 aerials per game. This season has continued the good showing. With Willi Orban, Leipzig’s starting CB being injured, Konate was able to strike up a partnership with the clubs other young, French centre back in Dayot Upemecano. Konate has started 18 games this season, in that time he has kept 6 clean sheets and scored 1 goal, in the 4-0 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf (See our article on Dusseldorf’s one to watch Dodi Lukebakio here).
His stats are impressive. He has won 3.5 aerials per game, top 20 for the whole Bundesliga, and more than any other Under-21 in Europe. He has made 3.9 clearances, not too many compared to the rest of the league, but this is down to his play style, which will be discussed later in the article. The centre back has made an astonishing 2.2 interceptions/game, showing his eagerness to step up and take the ball off the opposition
Ibrahima Konate stats – Play style
Konate is a modern centre back, very similar in style to Virgil van Dijk. He is a huge presence on the pitch at 6 foot 4, but put him in a one-on-one situation and he is like a rocket. The long legs mean a Usain Bolt-like stride that allows him to outspeed and outmuscle the attacker. Quick on the turn, no one would want to face him.As the interception stats show, he likes to step up. Not letting the attacker have a second to turn, he is on their back like a flash. This forces them to pass backwards and slows down the attack. Alternatively he can use the length in his legs to get round and take the ball off the attacker. No surprise due to his height, he is great in the air. So much so, that in Leipzig’s most recent game against Nuernburg, he won 6 aerials.
Defensively solid, a modern centre back is now required to be much more than a defender. Following on from this, players must now have the ability to kick start an attack. Konate is a shining example of this. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, as soon as he is in possession, his head goes up. He then starts dribbling forward, often past the halfway line, before making a pass. As shown in players like Harry Maguire, this is an incredible option to have as a manager. This season, Konate has completed 15 successful dribbles, more than any other CB in the Premier League, and 5th in the whole of Europe
Ibrahima Konate stats – The Future at Arsenal?
It’s no real surprise, then, that Konate’s incredible stats and modern play style are catching the eye of many clubs. One club in particular that seems to be interested in the young Frenchman is Arsenal. With some centre back issues from injuries and squad depth, a young, starting centre back must be near the top of their shopping list. Konate is playing at a high standard already, but a move to an established club like Arsenal might be the future for the youngster. We will have to see, but for now he is definitely One to Watch