Ibrahima Konate has been Liverpool’s lucky omen this season but will happily lose his 100 per cent scoring record at Wembley to lift the FA Cup.
The France Under-21 international has quietly settled into life at Anfield following a £36million move from RB Leipzig last summer and is expected to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of Liverpool’s defence, as he did in the semi-final against Manchester City.
Konate opened the scoring that day with a towering header and also converted a penalty in the shootout against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final in February.
Ibrahima Konate has been Liverpool’s lucky Wembley omen this season and is yet to lose there
The 22-year-old centre half has quietly become a trusted lieutenant for Jurgen Klopp (right)
He is the only member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad to play in every minute of their FA Cup campaign, and Liverpool are yet to lose a game when Konate has played.
Extending that sequence on Saturday evening will lead to his second medal and it is that possibility, rather than grabbing any headlines for himself, that is driving the 22-year-old.
This campaign has gone better than he could have expected and he doesn’t want it to stop.
‘I’m very excited – the whole team is!’ said Konate.
‘It’s a huge event. One goal might be enough, whether it’s me who scores it or somebody else, it doesn’t bother me either way.
‘The most important thing is to go and win, then come back to Liverpool and celebrate a great victory. Never at any moment in my life could I have imagined this. I knew I was joining a very big club, a club that has set out to win titles and trophies.
The former RB Leipzig defender, who signed last summer for £36million, is expected to line up alongside Virgil van Dijk (left) in the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday
‘But this season has been exceptional, a historic one for the club and it’s hard to put into words. It’s super exciting to be a part of.
‘My expectation was to come here and work. The club has a very strong work ethic. The coach has placed a lot of trust in me and I’m very happy about that. The thing now is to continue putting in good performances and hopefully get the wins.’
Liverpool had followed Konate when he was a youth player at Sochaux but moved for him last winter at a time when Van Dijk was still recovering from cruciate ligament surgery.
There was no prospect of him joining last January during the club’s defensive crisis, as there was no release clause, but he has proven to be worth the wait.
Konate scored in the semi-final vs Man City and has a 100 per cent scoring record at Wembley
Now alongside Van Dijk, who Konate explains has been an inspiration and a role model, he is showing why – with his speed and strength – Liverpool were so eager to sign him.
‘The whole team defend, to be honest,’ said Konate.
‘It’s not just the back four. The midfield and even the attackers, they all have a role to play in allowing us to do what we do. We can only defend with that level of support from up front.
‘As for Virgil, he gives me some advice for big games, but he also has this quality where we have this great relationship, and he allows me to decide in each match, to make decisions. He lets me play to my own qualities, and I think that is a very good aspect of his leadership.’