It almost goes without saying now that Liverpool’s downfall this season has been their inability to keep players fit for a prolonged period.
But the 23-year-old made an imperious return with two winning performances last week, first helping to keep a clean sheet and inflict a first defeat of the season on Napoli, then holding on for victory over Spurs.
He dominated Harry Kane for much of the game on Sunday, while also covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold as he toiled in his battle with Ryan Sessegnon out wide.
This played out in the statistics, with Konate better than any other player in a host of defensive metrics:
He also won more duels (11), won possession more times (9) and won more aerial duels (7) than any of his teammates. ? pic.twitter.com/xbMXMn4AFn
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 6, 2022
Ibrahima Konaté with a huge display.
Duels won (11) = 1st
Aerial duels won (7) = 1st
Possesson won (11) = T-1st pic.twitter.com/UdNg3qvgqq
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) November 6, 2022
Speaking to LFCTV after the game, the young centre-back said he was “very happy” to make his comeback after two difficult injuries.
And taking to Twitter in praise of Konate, Liverpool fans echoed his sentiment:
Konate transforms Liverpool’s defence he’s got it all & still only 23. His physical gifts are plain to see he’s a colossus & so fast but some footballer too.
Liverpool need to sign two midfielders of similar stature & quality – the current options lack strength, pace & energy.
— Neil Docking (@NeilDocking) November 6, 2022
11 ball recoveries, 8 clearances, 2 interceptions, 11/13 duels won. Said it after the Napoli match, but it can't be stated enough how important Ibrahima Konaté being fit is for Liverpool. Well-synced with Virgil van Dijk and they complement each other incredibly well. Top CB.
— Maxi (@MaaxiAngelo) November 6, 2022
Big result for @LFC ??
MO Salah sensational, Nunez causing chaos as usual & Konate makes the team quicker & more powerful! #TOTLIV
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) November 6, 2022
How good is it having Ibrahima Konate back in defence!? That was some display from him in that second-half.
— Caoimhe O'Neill (@CaoimheSport) November 6, 2022
Konate won 88% of his aerial duels today. An absolute colossus.
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) November 6, 2022
Ibrahima Konaté returns & Liverpool win back to back games vs Napoli and Tottenham
— – (@PassLikeThiago) November 6, 2022
Big Ibou Konaté. What a performance. Absolutely unreal.
Monsieur Deschamps, you are spoilt for riches at CB but Konaté would be the shrewdest choice of all.
— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) November 6, 2022
Ibrahima fucking Konate. What a player
— Eden (@theKloppEnd_) November 6, 2022
How on earth did we have a free run at Konate aswell by the way?! A £36m release clause and nobody else went near him ?
What a player.
— Biggies Malls 2.0 (@Biggies_MaIIs) November 6, 2022
It is seemingly not only Liverpool fans who are taken by the No. 5, either:
Konate is actually a joke. Unreal defender.
— Hotspur Edition (@HotspurEdition) November 6, 2022
There is no doubt that Konate is a world-class centre-back in the making, and that he should now be the player Jurgen Klopp builds around at the back.
Matip and Joe Gomez have stepped in excellently alongside Van Dijk at various stages, but neither possess the all-round ability and scope for improvement that an on-form Konate does.
The hope is that he can now stay fit and avoid further injury – and, from a selfish point of view, stay out of the spotlight when it comes to Didier Deschamps’ France squad.
A break for the World Cup, and the extended period of training that comes with it, could be key to maintaining Konate’s form and fitness throughout 2023.