Veteran midfielder James Milner has given his backing for new signing Ibrahima Konate to succeed at Liverpool after making his full debut.
Liverpool endured a torrid time with defensive injuries last season, resulting in their failure to retain the Premier League title. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all suffered season-ending injuries, leading to midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson deputising in central defence during games.
Jurgen Klopp quickly addressed those issues and signed Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig very early in the window. The French defender was afforded time to integrate into the squad, and over the weekend, made his full debut against Crystal Palace, partnering van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
Klopp decided against playing Konate straightaway when the season started, affording him ample time to bed in and learn the process at the club. While he has been impressive in training, he had to wait for his chance owing to the in-form Joel Matip, who started all games in the league before last weekend.
However, there are huge expectations from Konate to become an important part of the club’s long-term future. He is also likely to play an important role this season, with Liverpool competing on multiple fronts.
Veteran midfielder and Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has given his backing for Konate to succeed at the club. The 35-year-old was impressed with the defender’s display at the weekend, although cautioned him to have patience.
Milner said, “He has been brilliant,” Milner told the ECHO. “He’s a great lad, a funny guy. He’s very strong, as you can see. He’s quick, good on the ball. I’m really impressed with him. It’s not easy when you don’t get into the team straight away. He would have been itching to get out there and play at Anfield.”
“It was a very hard job for him at Anfield with me beside him! But on the plus side, Virg was on the other. He’s a top-class player; he’s going to be a seriously good player for this team. Watching a few games on the sidelines hasn’t done him any harm; he can see the intensity and get a feel for the crowd.”
How Konate fares in the weeks and months to come remains to be seen, especially with competition for the central defensive spots being intense. What will also be interesting to see is if he ends up making a big impact at Liverpool for years to come.