Liverpool return to action in the Premier League on Saturday in the lunchtime kick-off at Craven Cottage against promoted Fulham, and a new update has emerged from a reliable source regarding an injury problem for the Reds.
According to The Athletic’s Liverpool reporter James Pearce, Ibrahima Konate will be out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury sustained in the pre-season friendly against Strasbourg last weekend and will not be available for selection against Fulham tomorrow at the very least.
Jurgen Klopp followed up Pearce’s report in his pre-match press conference this morning, giving a little more detail on the player’s injury issues as he said (via Liverpool Echo): “Ibou in a challenge in the game against Strasbourg, what happened there we have to see how long it will take but he’s out for a while.”
For a team like Liverpool who are expected to be in contention for the Premier League title yet again this season, a good start with a solid team to deploy will always be advantageous in the early stages of the campaign, so Klopp will surely be gutted that Konate will now be out for a while.
The Liverpool manager followed up his assessment of the Frenchman’s injury, with a claim that the Reds would now be unlikely to sell Nat Phillips this summer to cover the 23-year-old’s defender’s absence, following interest from both Fulham and Bournemouth.
When asked about Phillips’ chances of staying at Anfield, Klopp responded (via Liverpool Echo): “Probably. (Konate’s injury) will influence the outgoing transfers, I would say.”
Konate settled in spectacularly well at Liverpool after joining last summer and played a valuable part in the Reds’ challenge for four trophies and victories in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, showcasing his confidence and talent in the Champions League with two goals against Benfica.
Over 11 Premier League performances, the Frenchman made 78.8 touches, 1.5 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 3.4 clearances per game and tallied a 92% pass completion rate in his own half, also winning the majority of his duels (62%) and successfully completing the majority of his dribbles (67%).
Indeed, Joel Matip will likely be the first-choice partner for Virgil van Dijk, with Joe Gomez next in line in Konate’s absence, judging by their respective top-flight minutes in 2021/22.
However, both Matip and Gomez are renowned for having injury issues, so Klopp won’t be taking any chances by keeping Phillips on standby should the worst case scenario present itself again as it did in 2020/21, when Liverpool had almost all of their defenders injured.
There is no doubt that the Reds manager will be disappointed to lose Konate so early in the season, and he will be hoping that the probable centre-back duo of Matip and Van Dijk can comfortably hold their own when their league season gets underway at Craven Cottage this weekend.