Jürgen Klopp backs Ibrahima Konate after criticism from former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson
Former Liverpool player Mark Lawrenson has set his sights on French U21 center-back Ibrahima Konate as the international break kicks off after the European Cup-winning defender has put recent performances of the Paris-native under the microscope.
Konate appeared three times for the Reds this month in a pair of FA Cup wins against Norwich City and Nottingham Forest as well as the 1-0 win against West Ham at Anfield two weeks ago in the Premier League.
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But Lawrenson, who won eleven major trophies for Liverpool across a seven-year stint on Merseyside that included five league wins and four successful domestic cup runs, has not been impressed by the former RB Leipzig starlet, claiming that ‘he disappears.’
“Konate is learning, we know he’s going to be good, great physique, quick enough. I just think defensively if you watch yesterday and if you watched West Ham as well, he disappears at times from his position, and as good as Van Dijk is, he can’t put his finger in the dike every time something happens.”
Jürgen Klopp backs Konate during Liverpool adaptation period
It was not so long ago that both Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate were part of a vaunted backline at Bundesliga upstarts RB Leipzig under now-Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann, but the pair have been on different trajectories since leaving last summer.
Upamecano has managed 22-appearances (19-starts) in the league for Bayern this term while featuring prominently in their Champions League campaign as well and his influence in Bavaria comes in stark contrast to that of Konate who has struggled to break the defensive duopoly of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.
But there is still plenty of time for Konate to develop into a first-choice option for the long term under Jürgen Klopp, who has leaped to the defense of the Paris Saint-Germain and FC Sochaux academy product while backing his ability on the pitch despite his need to adapt to life at Anfield.
“First and foremost, what players always should be: they should be themselves in the first moment. That’s why we signed him.”
“He played games pretty early for us and I think we all agree he is an exceptional talent: physically outstanding, good footballer as well. When you are that skilled, that quick, that strong, it’s pretty normal – especially when you are young – that your concentration level drops from time to time.”
“Tactically, we played obviously very different to Leipzig, they played quite frequently there with three in the back, which is different as well. He had to adapt and has to adapt still to his teammates left and right of him, all these kind of things.”