Liverpool

Liverpool

Premier League • England

‘Both have big problems’ – Babbel proffers reasons behind Liverpool duo’s ‘struggles’

Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate

Markus Babbel feels both Naby Keita and Ibrahima Konate have struggled at Liverpool due to the different style of play at previous club RB Leipzig.

Keita, 27, moved to Anfield in the summer of 2018 after impressing with Die Roten Bullen. The Guinea international made 71 appearances in all competitions across two seasons, bagging 17 goals. He arrived on Merseyside to much fanfare.

But, despite showing glimpses of his undoubted talent, he has failed to nail down a regular starting berth. The midfielder has enjoyed 100 outings for the Reds, notching 10 goals in the process.

He has been seen 68 times in the Premier League. However only 42 of those appearances have been starts and he rarely plays the entire 90 minutes.

That is in stark contrast to his days in Germany when he was a regular starter at Red Bull Arena. His time at Liverpool has been blighted by a series of niggling injuries.

And Jurgen Klopp has continually backed the former Istres schemer. The German recently heaped praise on Keita and hinted at a new deal prior to his last outing.

“Naby’s future will be great, I know that because of the player he is. Until then it makes no sense (to talk about his contract),” he said.

“I heard if Naby plays it will be game 100. It is an impressive number. But it could have been more because he is sometimes injured.”

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“When he looks back at how he played he is an exceptional footballer. That is why we brought him in the first place. Of those 100 games, I think 80 were really good.”

Konate faces tough Liverpool challenge

Konate had long been linked with the Merseysiders before he penned a five-year deal last summer. But, with last season’s injured defenders back fit, he has struggled for game time, with just eight starts.

However, the Parisian has impressed when selected, earning high praise from former Red Jamie Carragher. But ex-Liverpool stopper Babbel sees it another way.

And he used both Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer as an example of why leaving Leipzig can be a tough transition for many stars.

“It’s really amazing when you look at the recent transfers from RB Leipzig,” he told Sky in Germany. Whether it was a Keita or a Konate to Liverpool, both have big problems there. And now also Upamecano.

“With Marcel Sabitzer, you could think that the Sabitzer in Munich is a twin brother of the Sabitzer in Leipzig. Sometimes you think he’s never played football.

“These guys all find it very difficult when they leave Leipzig because they have their own style of play there.”

Naby Keita Pablo Fornals Liverpool West Ham 2022 TEAMtalk1

Joel Matip has been Klopp’s preferred centre-back partner for Virgil van Dijk. The Cameroon international has enjoyed 23 top-flight starts this season, with 33 outings in all competitions.

Konate is eight years younger than his German-born team-mate. Matip is under contract until the summer of 2024. And it may be that he blocks the former France Under-21 star’s route the first team for some time.

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