Karim Konate: "The next top scorer in the Bundesliga"

Karim Konate: "The next top scorer in the Bundesliga"

Maybe it’s because Christoph Freund will soon be moving to Munich and no longer has to be overly diplomatic in Salzburg. In any case, after the 3: 4 friendly defeat against Inter Milan, the outgoing sports director declared himself as clear as ever regarding the double goal scorer Karim Konaté: “I’m guessing he will be the top scorer in Austria. And I’m not leaning that far out of the window.”

In Haaland’s footsteps

In fact, the 19-year-old Ivorian, who has been under contract in Salzburg for a year, underlined with his performance against the Champions League finalists despite missing a penalty that he is “The Next Big Thing” in the “bull stable”. Freund didn’t mince his words either: “For me, Karim is one of the most talented and interesting strikers I’ve ever seen in Salzburg. And we know which strikers were here.”

From Jonny Soriano to Sadio Mané, Patson Daka, Karim Adeyemi to Benjamin Sesko and Noah Okafor, they all knew where the goal was. But after everything we’ve seen of him so far, Konaté could even enter the spheres of Erling Haaland. “He’s just a real goal-getter,” Freund enthuses about the attacker, who is only 1.78 meters tall and yet has everything a tall center forward should.

The “new Drogba”

Discovered on the streets of his hometown of Ouraghio, he soon landed in the academy of capital city club ASEC Mimosas, which has the reputation of being “La Masía” of Ivory Coast. Gervinho, Kolo Touré, Arthur Boka and Emmanuel Eboué are just some of its most famous alumni. However, Karim Konaté did not stay at the academy for too long, at the age of 17 he was ready for the international stage, which he conquered straight away with seven goals in eight games in the CAF Confederation Cup (comparable to the Europa League).

20 goals in 29 league games meant the ‘prodigy’ was quickly hailed as the ‘new Drogba’, despite being said to be more of a fan of namesake Karim Benzema. In September 2021 “Koka”, as the Mimosa appendix called him, played his first international match, in January 2022 he was not yet 18 years old in the “Elephants” Africa Cup of Nations, but was not used.

Three goals against Chelsea

The clubs were already queuing. The contract was awarded shortly after Red Bull Salzburg were eliminated from the round of 16. Christoph Freund is said to have transferred $3.5 million to Abidjan, which tripled the club’s old transfer record. Konaté’s market value is now six million, although he has only eleven Bundesliga games under his belt. On his debut in February 2023, he needed just ten minutes to score for the first time in the 3-1 win against WSG Tirol.

Last Sunday he delivered his first brace again at Innsbruck’s Tivoli. It was just fulfilling a promise he had already made with 15 second division goals for Liefering and six Youth League goals. The fact that he scored three of them against Didier Drogba’s former club Chelsea was received with particular euphoria in his home country.

Dream club Lyon

“I am sure that we will see him on the international stage in the next ten years,” says Christoph Freund, Karim Konaté’s path to one of Europe’s top leagues has already been mapped out. “I like Liverpool and Barcelona, ​​but my favorite club is Olympique Lyon,” the teenager is already dreaming of the next step.

With appearances like the one against Inter Milan and the Bundesliga top scorer prophesied by Freund, he won’t have to wait long for that.


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