Michael Edwards’ tactic switchup crucial to £58.2m deal that will radicalise Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo has confirmed that sporting director Michael Edwards agreed to pay the full release clause upfront to sign Ibrahima Konate – a significant tactic change that secured his signature.

Sources close to Anfield Central claim that the genius behind the Reds’ transfers tried to get RB Leipzig to an increased fee that would be amortized over the length of his contract but that was rejected.

Liverpool were left with two options: pay the £36million fee upfront or walk away from the deal.

After years of scouting and months of negotiations, there was no way Jurgen Klopp was going to let Konate slip away.

Konate and van Dijk.
Liverpool have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig. (Edit by Bleacher Report)

The Echo confirms that Edwards was forced to commit to paying the release clause in full but Liverpool’s willingness to sign Konate on RB Leipzig’s terms shows how highly they think of the defender.

We reported at the end of April that RBL coaching staff were disappointed to learn that they would be losing Konate as they view him as the future best defender in the world and new manager Jesse Marsch is of the same opinion.

More recently, Anfield Central was told that the American is ‘brokenhearted’ at the prospect of missing out on working with the France U21 captain after he failed to convince him to stay at the club.

A phone call was scheduled with Konate after Marsch was appointed as RBL manager but Konate’s desire to join Liverpool was too strong, with the chance to play with the likes of Virgil van Dijk obviously a major pull.

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - MAY 11: Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Robert Lewandowski of FC Bayern Muenchen battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Bayern Muenchen at Red Bull Arena on May 11, 2019 in Leipzig, Germany.
LEIPZIG, GERMANY – MAY 11: Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Robert Lewandowski of FC Bayern Muenchen battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Bayern Muenchen at Red Bull Arena on May 11, 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)

I cannot wait to see Konate in action alongside the Dutchman. There’s no denying that the Reds’ new defender isn’t perfect and he has a lot to work on in terms of decision making and with regards to defending 1 v 1 in a high line.

That said, in van Dijk, he couldn’t have a better player to learn from and between them, they should form the most aerially dominant, ball-playing central defensive partnership that the Premier League has seen for a long time.

Joe Gomez is blisteringly quick but he’s a bit of a pushover in the air and while Joel Matip is fantastic in the air and is great on the ball, he is quite slow and is suspect to long balls over the top.

Konate has the full package and once he learns when to dive into challenges and when to jockey backwards and bide his time, he’s going to be a very tough defender to get past.

Konate
LEIPZIG, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 07: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Ibrahima Konate of RasenBallsport Leipzig looks on during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Sport-Club Freiburg at Red Bull Arena on November 7, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

As we reported around a month before Konate was officially signed, the Frenchman will go straight into the starting XI to give Joe Gomez time to work his way back from a very tricky patellar tendon injury that the club is concerned about.

The knee injury, combined with his previous lengthy layoffs, is concerning but Liverpool are hopeful that without the pressure of having to be fit for the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season, he can make a full recovery.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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