Pape Moussa Konaté 20 Striker Genoa (on loan from FC Krasnodar) Senegal
2013 has been…
A very significant bump in the road for Moussa Konaté. The Senegalese striker is already well traveled at the age of 20, having come through as a youngster at ASC Toure Kunda de Mbour in 2010 and being transferred to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2011. There, his impact as a forward, especially off the bench, attracted the attention of FC Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League. After a pretty patchy, less than prolific but nevertheless impressive spell in Israel, Konaté moved again in 2012.
The goals that put him on the mainstream radar were not scored in Tel Aviv but in the United Kingdom in the national team jersey of Senegal’s Olympics side. Only Leandro Damião scored more in the tournament and Senegal reached the quarter-finals – where Konaté’s goal sparked a comeback from 2-0 down against winners Mexico, a comeback that proved futile after extra time – thanks to Konaté scoring in every group game, twice against Uruguay.
Five goals in London 2012 was an eye-catching return but the seasons that have followed haven’t exactly gone Konaté’s way. He barely made a mark in Russia before leaving Krasnodar on loan to Serie A and Genoa in July.
He has started just one league game for the Grifone (he was substituted) and has appeared as a substitute four times. He has not scored for them yet, while at Krasnodar – where he will in theory return next summer – he never started in the league but did open his account, scoring a last-minute cushion goal in a 2-0 win against Dinamo Moscow last November.
It’s been a difficult 18 months for a player who burst onto the scene at the Olympics, but he is no lost cause.
In a rare outing for Genoa in September, he showed a little of what he could do. Operating in a front two with Alberto Gilardino, the pair constantly interchanged which sides they played on and which played furthest forward as the team’s focal point, and opponents Udinese had plenty to think about.
He works hard when the opposition is playing the ball between defenders, harassing them in possession and making them quicken their play rather than soaking up the time and picking their moments. He’s good at winning flick-ons from long balls and has a clever trick pass in his locker too.
His strength allows him to keep the ball well in tight spots, and a bit of intelligence lets him pick tidy passes to keep possession. Konaté has a decent football brain, good vision and a willingness to try things with a high degree of difficulty in the name of creation. He shoots early, hard and well with both feet. He’s not blessed with lightning pace, nor consistent brilliance, but he’s fast enough and has no lack of confidence, even in his first and so far only start for Genoa.
But Konaté’s first touch is mixed at best. Sometimes it’s unwavering, as comfortable and unthinking as pulling on one’s favourite underpants, but sometimes it’s very ropey indeed. More worryingly, it can be a little casual. He has strength, but doesn’t yet quite seem to have grown into being able to use it to its full potential.
Some goals, please. Konaté is a worker and has some real qualities, but he just doesn’t make enough of an impact. His work ethic was supposedly why he was selected ahead of fellow loanee Emanuele Calaio against Udinese, the Italian’s more potent goal threat sacrificed for the graft of the Senegalese.
Konaté’s record for Senegal is good but there is a serious level of competition for his position and he has done well just to pick up the caps and score the goals he has, what with the likes of Moussa Sow, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba, Dame N’Doye, Mame Diram Douif and now M’Baye Niang vying for his spot.
Nevertheless, Konaté hasn’t done enough at club level to earn a run of games for either Genoa or Senegal, and that’s what he’ll need to address in 2014. Serie A is a tough nut to crack for a young striker who doesn’t trade in goals alone, and perhaps a loan inside Russia or even a bit of real game time for Krasnodar would suit him better.
As with most 20-year-old forwards, time will tell. As his game isn’t primarily built on pace, Konaté should – should – be a player who only gets better. He’s a long way off for now.
"The loan move looked bizarre at the time, and still appears that way now. Krasnodar clearly don't fancy him, appears Genoa aren't too keen either." - Jeff Livingstone, IBWM
D Plenty to prove but not a lost cause