FC Cincinnati announced more player news on Wednesday with their third signing of the summer MLS transfer window. Defender Pa Konate will join the Orange & Blue on loan from Italian Serie A club S.P.A.L. 2013. Konate signed an MLS contract with FCC for a year-long loan. Further, they will add him to the current team’s roster on a USL loan for the remainder of 2018, pending receipt of his transfer papers. Konate is already in Cincinnati training with the squad.
What Pa Konate Brings to FC Cincinnati
Young Top-Flight Tested Talent
Similar to Fatai Alashe, Konate is on the early side of his professional career but has already amassed significant top-flight experience. His pro career began at Malmö, the Allvenskan powerhouse, at age 19. After being part of their youth system, he spent four seasons competing for first team playing time, and amassing 56 total league appearances. Konate saw the most action in 2016, when he made 22 Allvenskan appearances for the club. Malmö claimed the Swedish championship four of the five years Pa Konate spent there.
Konate also made six Champions League group stage appearances with Malmö. He faced big-name opposition in the form of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and PSG on Europe’s biggest stage in 2014 and 2015.
He’s also been in Sweden’s international setup. Konate made 15 appearances with the Sweden U-21 squad and three appearances with the full national team in friendlies with Estonia, Finland, and the Ivory Coast. Despite this experience, Konate is considering a switch to his father’s native Guinea as they compete for qualification for the African Cup of Nations.
Pa earned a move to Serie A’s S.P.A.L 2013 in the summer of 2017, but did not make any league appearances during the 17-18 season. He did appear twice in the early rounds of the Coppa Italia. Now Konate is in Cincinnati in search of playing time and a full transfer to FCC if his loan goes well.
All-in-all, the player brings some high quality experience for his age and is looking to make a breakthrough in the United States.
Left Back Depth
Blake Smith has been a determined and consistent presence on FC Cincinnati’s back line this season. He’s also played a marked role in FCC’s recent success and ten game unbeaten streak. Whether Konate can claim the starting left back position in place of Smith remains to be seen. FCC’s staff clearly sees promise in the Swede if they are willing to use an MLS international spot on the player. Koch says that he expects Pa to “compete for playing time immediately.”
Regardless of who starts though, this is clearly a position where FC Cincinnati needed more depth. Lance Laing, who is the next best option at left back has been injured for a good portion of the season. It was fantastic to see Lance back on the field against Espanyol, but it’s also good to see FCC proactively addressing the need. Laing, when healthy, is arguably a more natural left-sided winger than a left back. Sassano and company are ensuring FCC has the depth to rotate and recover from a potential injury during the second half of the season. Konate also clearly has the credentials to advance to MLS when the time comes.
The one quality that seems to stand out in defining Pa’s game is attacking. This is what Konate had to say when asked about his own qualities in an interview with Sweden fan website svenskafans.com.
“I’m an offensive extremist. I want to be on my way up and go up to the assault as much as possible. I think I’m good at the defensive and in the main game too, but I’m offensive.”
Pa shows off this attacking prowess in this match clip from Malmö’s Champions League encounter with PSG.
“Pa is an excellent technical left back who is willing to join in the attack and is also an excellent defender. We are excited to get him back up to match speed, so that he can recover his form that he showed at Malmö and earned him his move to Serie A.” –Alan Koch
Pa is a Swedish citizen, born in Malmö, but has a Gambian mother and a Guinean father. Interestingly, each of FC Cincinnati’s three signings in this transfer window have West African roots.
With three players in the door, FC Cincinnati’s summer transfer business might be complete. However, with a week left in MLS’s secondary transfer window, there’s still a chance for opportunity to present itself.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.