Premier League • England

Liverpool star asks ‘where can I go next’ after troubled season; slams comparison between Van Dijk and international teammate

Liverpool stars Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz

Ibrahima Konate admitted his season has been “complicated” when assessing his future at Liverpool, while a comparison between Virgil van Dijk and a French teammate was laughed off by the centre-back.

Following the 6-2 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League last week, Liverpool’s last hope of major silverware went up in smoke.

The Community Shield has been banked, though whether that can be classified as a major honour is open to debate.

Liverpool’s sole focus is now on producing a late-season surge up the table and snatching fourth spot. Failure to do so and missing out on next season’s Champions League could play havoc with their summer transfer plans.

Now, speaking to Eurosport France, Ibrahima Konate admitted Liverpool’s season has been a disappointment, though reaffirmed his loyalty to the club.

Indeed, on the subject of a potential exit, Konate quipped: “When you play for Liverpool, the question honestly is, ‘Where can I go next?”

Konate has been limited to just eight league appearances this season due to an array of injures. However, he has featured in the last three in the league and the Frenchman will no doubt play a crucial role in determining whether Liverpool ascend into the top four this season.

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Konate eyeing long Liverpool stay

“When you play for Liverpool, the question honestly is, ‘Where can I go next?” said Konate.

“And to last at this club, you have to perform. My goal is to be part of the team in the short and long term, and of course to win all the titles.”

Konate continued: “We’ll admit it: this season is more complicated for all of us, for the whole club. Nobody is better placed to talk about the reasons than the coach.

“We were unlucky to have a lot of injured players like me at the beginning of the season. Maybe we were short of manpower, the workload was intense and it became complicated. But the season is not over.”

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Van Dijk comparison dismissed

Konate will hope to star in France’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland. If given the nod, his partner in the heart of defence could be Dayot Upamecano.

When asked how the Bayern Munich and France ace compares to Virgil van Dijk, Konate insisted the Liverpool man is a cut above.

“What kind of question is that? replied Konate. “You can’t compare the two.

“With Upamecano, we are in the same category even if he is a very high competitor. But Van Dijk, I put him on a different planet.

“We’re still a long way from achieving what he did. Although we will get there one day, I have no doubt.”

The Frenchman continued: “He has his own technique, it’s incredible. His determination, his drive… He has an aura on the pitch, you always feel it.

“It’s an exceptional chance to play with him. But I also have to look at my career and not look at him as a fan all the time.”