Premier League • England

Pundit reveals why Van Dijk deputy is not up to scratch in major Liverpool concern

Joel Matip; Ibrahima Konate Liverpool v Porto

Michael Owen admitted that Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate ‘worries him’ after the defender’s first-half display against Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

The match at Anfield was goalless at the break, but the visitors had a number of opportunities to take the lead in an opening 45 minutes in which they looked dangerous. Konate was also booked on the hour mark, although his performance did improve slightly after the break.

However, he looked very and off the pace early on. That led to Owen criticising the lack of communication between Konate and centre-back partner Joel Matip.

“It’s a huge game for Porto and they have got in once or twice,” Owen told BT Sport during their first-half analysis.

“Konate worries me a little bit, I must say.

“He presses a little bit, he comes in and likes to mark men and a lot of the time he gets done in behind.

“A couple of times there, we missed one or two off the reel we could’ve shown where people are getting in behind him so I think they’ve just got to be careful without [Virgil] Van Dijk there.

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“Communication might be key between them. They don’t strike me as two players, Matip and Konate, that are going to speak to each other much.

“They’ve looked a little bit vulnerable.”

Van Dijk was rested by Jurgen Klopp, with the Reds already having qualified for the knockout stage.

Konate has now made five appearances in all competitions, although Wednesday night’s game was his first in Europe.

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Klopp hails Liverpool mindset

Meanwhile, Klopp was full of praise for the way his side beat Porto 2-0 and stressed that all his players were selected on merit.

The Reds made it five wins from five in Europe’s top club competition. Following a goalless first half, Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah found the net to give the hosts a comfortable victory. Spain midfielder Thiago lit up Anfield with a stunning 25-yard strike on 52 minutes.

And Salah put the gloss on the display with 20 minutes left on the clock. The result means the Merseysiders have a maximum 15 points from their five games. They are a huge 10 points clear of second-placed Porto.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Porto 2021 TEAMtalk1

It was not a vintage Liverpool display and the visitors played their part. Klopp was happy with the result and made it clear his men were always looking for the three points.

“It was good, we could have done better and been more calm in the first half. We were a bit hectic. That is not unusual when you put a team out that has not played together a lot,” he told BT Sport.

“Some people think we might play an easy game but we were not here for that. Anfield is sold out so we want to go (for it).”

So many positives

And the German felt there were so many positives outside of the result.

“Thiago’s goal, wow! It is so important, so many good things happened tonight, players got minutes, rhythm, confidence, nobody got hurt, our head of rehab said give James Milner 15 minutes and he got 12 or 13,” he added.

“Jordan Henderson played, Andrew Robertson came on and the right players could get rested like Trent Alexander-Arnold, who should not play all the time.”

READ MORE: Klopp pushes Liverpool to go all out for €120m midfield lynchpin and conquer Man Utd