With 5 days left in the transfer window, time is running out for Arsenal to buy that defender that we need so much. The general consensus is that Holding, Sokratis, and Chambers are not enough to make us reach top four. Other defensive figures are either not good enough (*cough* Mustafi) or do not want to play (*cough* Koscielny). As for the final two, Mavropanos and Medley, they are clearly not ready to take on such a big role at this stage in their development. Hopefully, at least one of them can get a loan move to speed up the learning process.
Enter, Ibrahima Konate.
An absolute colossus of a defender in my opinion. Standing at 192 cm, he rivals the most intimidating defenders out there. He is very similar to Saliba in many cases. He is quick, athletic and is great in the air. Except this time, Konate would be available this season. He reminds me of Rudiger but with a higher potential ceiling.
To delve into his impressive statistics, it's clear that he uses his physical attributes to a outstanding degree. He won 70% of his aerial duels, and 61% of his ground duels. He made 2.1 interceptions per game, and 4.3 clearances per game. Couple that with a tackle success rate of 72% and a completion rate of 85% of his dribbles and you will have a serious, dominant force in the backline. To top it all off, he only gets dribbled past 0.4 times per game!
Many people would say that he isn't the answer to our problem and I can agree with that but I think he is a BIG step in the right direction. As a matter of fact, RB Leipzig had the best defensive record in the Bundesliga last year. In front of the likes of the German giants, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. What I also noticed from him was that his disciplinary record isn't worrying like some of our center backs, picking up 7 yellow cards last season. It would be interesting to see how he adjusts this in a more physically demanding league.
Another problem that may linger is the overload of center backs not ready to start week in, week out. For me, Holding, Chambers, and Sokratis are experienced heads. Medley, Mavropanos, Saliba, and Konate are the young talents. I feel the likes of Shkodran Mustafi will leave this summer (hopefully), amid links to Monaco. As for Koscielny, there's no turning back after the decision he's made. I am also confident either Mavropanos or Medley get loaned out (I suggest 2 years because they need to be playing consistently). This leaves Arsenal with five centerbacks this season (Saliba loaned back) and seven next season when Saliba comes back. This is obviously a stretch but the likes of Sokratis isn't going to be her for more than 2 further years. That leaves 5-6 center backs which is still a little unhealthy but Konate is too big a talent to let slip through our hands.
Incidentally, at just 20 years old, he has plenty of time to adapt to the pace and physicality of the premier league. Many scout reports including one from WhoScored.com list his main strengths as concentration, tackling, aerial duels and ball control. As for his weaknesses, he has a bad weak foot and his passing accuracy should be better if he is to play in Emery's system. Now although this may seem deterring, a weak foot and passing can always be improved where as some skills like concentration are a lot harder to enhance. His center back partner, Upamecano, in particular, has bad concentration which is probably why Konate has played more minutes than him in the Bundesliga. For what it's worth, he has better physical qualities than a lot of the center backs around world football.
Speaking other center backs, many, top quality center backs in the world are far too expensive or do not find Europa League football appealing by any means. Although Konate would obviously want Champions League football, I'm sure he can be convinced by Raul and the other senior chiefs at Arsenal of the great project taking place in North London.
If Ceballos, Pepe and Saliba were convinced, surely this top prospect can be, too.
Comment below your suggestions and thoughts.