Ibrahima Konate conducted his first interview as a Liverpool player on Thursday – read it in full now.
The Reds’ new No.5 sat down exclusively with Liverpoolfc.com at the team’s pre-season base in Austria to discuss his move to Anfield.
Watch the chat via LFCTV GO or enjoy a full transcript below.
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Ibrahima, welcome to Liverpool. You’re almost a week into your stay now on this pre-season camp – first of all, what are your impressions and is it everything you expected?
Hello, thank you so much. Yes, I am very happy to be here with the team. My first impressions, I am very happy because I work with great players and I know I will [improve] here and I will be better with time. I’m very happy because we work together, everybody is happy and this is good.
You’ve come to Liverpool in great condition, but it’s a very intense fitness camp isn’t it? How have you found the first week?
Sure, it’s not easy but before the pre-season I worked in Paris and on holidays, and I prepared the pre-season. Now I am ready for hard work.
We saw the video of you back home. Tell us about that, who was invited to it? What was the idea behind it? It excited the fans in Liverpool…
I know! With the COVID situation it was difficult to come to Liverpool. I had this idea for a long time. It was good because it was Liverpool with the red colour and I did this video in three hours and it was very, very great for me, my friends and my family – and for the club too. I did it alone but my brother and sister came to see, but they were not on the video.
We saw you with the No.5 shirt as well. Is that a special number to you, is there a reason why you picked it?
No, I think it’s an important number for this club. A great player had this number before me. I have not pressure but a little bit of pressure because I have to improve for the future. I hope I will do great things with this number.
You’ve trained with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as well. Are these players you hope you’ll be able to learn from?
Yes, of course. Of course I will learn [from] these players, but not just with these players, with every player on this team. It’s just the start and with time it will be [a lot] better.
Which players have you bonded with, which players have you been close with this week and had conversations with?
With Van Dijk a little bit; Mane because he speaks French; Naby, I knew him for a long time; Origi and Salah. I think I can speak with every player step by step, it will be good.
And good impressions? They’re good guys…
Yes, of course, of course, of course – all of the team are good guys.
Tell us about the conversation with Jürgen Klopp. What has he asked you to do? What has he told you about the expectations for you this year?
We spoke before my signature, but this will stay between us. Yes, I know I am very young but this is not important – I have to improve on the pitch and to work. If I am good, for the rest it is not important.
You didn’t play for Leipzig against Liverpool last year, but were you dreaming then that perhaps one day you could be a Liverpool player?
No, I think not – but, yes, I was very sad to not play against Liverpool because it is one of the best teams in the world and when you are a football player you like to play in these games. We lost and I could not help the team in this moment and I was sad, but now I am very happy because I am in this team. Yes, I am happy.
What can Liverpool fans expect to see from you? Can you describe your style to them?
Yes, I am big, I am strong and I am not scared with the ball! I can score more with my foot than my head, it is a little bit strange! This is me! Yes, I have this quality, but I have to work again and again and more and more and more for being a very good defender.
How excited are you about playing in the Premier League?
Of course, of course, of course. This is not a question!
You think you’re suited to that style? The pace and intensity of the Premier League?
Yes, I have watched some Premier League games and everybody knows there is so much intensity, strong players. This is difficult but I [will] love the challenge.
And what about putting on the No.5 shirt for the first time? Pre-season is very difficult, but you must be looking forward to playing in the games?
Yes, yes, yes for sure. The first game is coming very soon and we prepare for this game and the games in the Premier League and Champions League. And we will see…
When you go back, the fans will be back, the ground will be full. How excited are you to see the fans?
I cannot explain how excited I am for this moment. It is too much to imagine this.
The fans will want to know what to call you; is there a nickname you like to be called?
Yes, ‘Ibou’ because when I was young, every time my mother would call me ‘Ibou, Ibou’. When I was on the first day in Leipzig, she was with me and she would say every time, ‘Hey, Ibou… Ibou… Ibou…’ and Ralf Rangnick asked, ‘Why ‘Ibou’?’ So, I said it was my nickname because every time my mum would call me that every time and my family too. He said, ‘OK, now it’s Ibou’ and afterwards everyone would call me it.