Ibrahima Konate needs to get to grips with the high line that Liverpool deploy if he is to displace Joel Matip in the defensive pecking order, one pundit has claimed.
Konate is increasing his prominence for Liverpool as his first season with the club continues. Bought for decent money from RB Leipzig, he has had to be somewhat patient for opportunities.
Although always giving a decent account of himself, Konate has been behind Matip in the hierarchy for the role of main partner to Virgil van Dijk.
There has been a sense of a transition recently, with Konate coming into more starting lineups. For example, he was deployed from the beginning against Benfica in both legs of the recent Champions League quarter-final.
Not only that, but he scored in both games too. However, when the focus returns to Premier League duties, Matip is more likely to regain his place.
One of the reasons why he may be being preferred to Konate, according to ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson, is because of the summer signing’s perceived delay in understanding how to play in a high line.
Asked by Off The Ball if Konate should be the regular starter, Lawrenson replied: “No, not yet because you only have to see against Benfica the other night where he does not quite get, at the moment, the high line.
“That is how Liverpool play, but you can only play with a high line if there is pressure on the passer from midfield. If there is not, you just have to drop off a little bit.
Konate ‘almost there’ but still behind Matip
“I do not think he has quite got that yet.
“Look he is almost there but does he get in before Matip? No.”
In comparison to Konate’s eight Premier League starts this season, Matip has made 25. Van Dijk has been the busiest of the lot with 29 league starts after his return from a long-term injury.
In the long-term, Konate – eight years Matip’s junior – may become the more regular starter. But for now, as Lawrenson has suggested before, he will still be learning his trade.
Konate is under contract with Liverpool until 2026.