Ibrahima Konate, Blues and Liverpool defender: "Why would I be the head?"

Ibrahima Konate, Blues and Liverpool defender: “Why would I be the head?”

Arriving Sunday at the Blues, replacing Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konate breathed a breath of fresh air during his presentation press conference. Unfazed by journalists’ questions, the Liverpool central defender responded with great spontaneity and frankness. Far from the coordinated or borrowed speech of some of his colleagues.

How did you know that you were called up for the France team and your first hours in Azraq?

Ibrahim my channel. “I was on a boat in Greece with my friends. I was looking for my phone, and I saw two missed calls. I didn’t know the number so I called him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t call my family because it’s confidential. Then when the news came out, it was such a pride. The group welcomed me very well. There are many players I have known for a long time. So the integration was very easy.

Just over a week between the Champions League final and today. Do you feel ready to play now?

I had the opportunity to play in the Champions League, unlike other players who cut before me. So I still have some rhythm. Am I ready or not if I have to play, I’m a soldier so I’ll do it for the band.

I had a very rich season with the move to Liverpool, the Champions League final, and now I’m called up for the blue team for the first time. Is it easy to digest?

Hello ! I was telling the coach that this season has been emotionally impressive as a young player. And here I am on vacation, decided to cut everything and they called me to join the France A-team, but we are always ready, because it is our job.

Is the World Cup in Qatar a goal for you?

Of course it is a goal. I told you before the Champions League final, but I didn’t think it would be so fast. But it is not an end in itself. You have to live the thing and not dream too much.

You have an interesting resume, but the public in France knows very little about you. How would you describe what Van Dijk gave you at Liverpool?

It’s not just Van Dyck who brought me in. There’s the whole group, especially Matip or Joe Gomez. They are three experienced players, even if Van Dijk is the best central defender in the world in my opinion. He gives me a lot of advice but also allows me to play my game, because he trusts my qualities. Sometimes I look at his stats, and I see that he runs lower than me. I figured it just put it. So I try to take inspiration from that.

What are your qualities?

(He laughs). I’m a fast player and I’m not afraid of the ball.

Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez arrived just before the 2018 World Cup. Did you know that first blue shoes can be decisive?

The first can be decisive, but I don’t put pressure on myself. There will be a season that starts before Qatar, so we will have to put in a good performance and I will try to be part of this group at the beginning of next season.

Do you think your path would have been the same if you hadn’t traveled abroad soon?

No idea. But I made the decision to go abroad early and it worked for me. Germany has helped me a lot, because Leipzig is a club that demands a lot of rigor and high standards. Adapting to a new culture required me to be more serious than if I had stayed in my cocoon.

How do you define your personality? We see you laughing a lot today. Is this to relieve stress?

No, I’m always like this. You can ask anyone. I try to bring joy to life. I’m healthy, I’m in the France national team, so why pull my head? There is no reason.

How do you live football? Do you watch a lot of matches?

Before, I never watched a match. Leipzig players, especially Nurdi Mukele, blamed me a lot. But I understood that it was important when I spoke to Van Dijk before the games and that he talked to me about the strikers and their playing, and I said to myself that I should also watch the matches. Sometimes you want to think about something else, but it’s important.

Do you have a role model in football?

Van Dijk and Sergio Ramos for Grinta. He was a positive Real Madrid captain on the pitch and scored a lot of goals. Today, he is a little embarrassed due to his injuries. So I try to take inspiration from these players.

It maintains a strong relationship with the La Roquette district of Paris. Why and what is your relationship with young people?

I would like to inspire the youngest of them. If it can inspire them and believe in what they want to do. That would be a very positive point for me. After that, I haven’t seen my friends grow up, so if I can give them a little more of what I’m going for when I get back, that’s the bare minimum.

You have distinguished yourself this season in your ability to be decisive on the offensive. Was this always inside of you?

I haven’t always had that. I didn’t really believe in myself in corners. I spoke with Thiago Alcantara, and he said to me, “When you go up into corners, you have to believe in your size. You can hurt.” I wear one and then follow it.

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