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Manchester United Locked In 3 Way Battle For This Bundesliga Defender: Right Choice For Solskjaer?

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Pratik Das
The youngest member of The 4th Official and an ardent Premier League fan who is basically obsessed with scouting young talents and is consumed by the idea of finding the perfect number 10.

Recent reports from The Sun suggest that Manchester United are set to compete with rivals Chelsea for the signature of 21-year-old RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks keen to add to his options at the back.

The centre-back has put up some awe-inspiring performances alongside his compatriot Dayot Upamecano at the heart of Leipzig’s defence this season. As a result, the duo has attracted major interest from several top European clubs.

Besides, reports from the Independent suggest that Liverpool have identified him as a serious target as well.

Konate’s Gradual Rise In The Bundesliga

The Evreux-born defender’s season has been cut short due to an unfortunate knee injury he picked up in December as he has featured in just six league games for the Red Bulls this season, securing two cleansheets in the process. While the presence of 22-year-old Dayot Upamecano has certainly helped Julian Nagelsmann keep things in order at the back, one cannot deny that Konate has been outstanding at his job whenever he has started.

In his 852 minutes across all competitions this season, the Frenchman has managed to put up some impressive numbers on the board – averaging 1.2 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, 2.4 clearances, and 2.3 long balls per ninety minutes. However, in the 2018/19 campaign, where the Frenchman managed to feature 43 times across all competitions, he bettered his countryman in every aspect of the defensive game, be it duels won, shots blocked or interceptions.

Manchester United Locked In A Three-Way Battle For Ibrahima Konate ( Ibrahima Konate can be seen in the picture)
Mason Greenwood of Manchester United is fouled by Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig leading to a penalty for Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between RB Leipzig and Manchester United at Red Bull Arena on December 08, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. Sporting stadiums around Germany remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Often compared to Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk, the 21-year-old centre-back has established himself as one the hottest prospects in European football as he looks set to add to his qualities with each passing game.

Is Konate The Right Choice For The Red Devils?

Well, with Manchester United’s weaknesses at the back, it’s beyond any doubt that Solskjaer will be desperately looking to recruit a defender when the transfer window reopens in July this year, perhaps someone who can partner skipper Harry Maguire in the long run – and Konate fits the bill perfectly.

Eric Bailly’s injury record shows how unreliable he can be in the long run. On the other hand, Victor Lindelof has been playing through some back pain now whereas skipper Harry Maguire has been inconsistent in some crucial games this season. With 75 appearances for the Bundesliga side and 11 Under-21 caps for his country, the youngster possesses the hunger and willingness required to excel, and he might end up transforming the United defence.

In an interview to Sport1 last year, former RB Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick highlighted Ibrahim Konate as a star of the future.

“He is an exceptional talent and will be one of the best central defenders of the next 10 years.” – The German tactician stated.

(Stats from WhoScored)

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