The signing of Ibrahima Konate may have signalled the end of a Liverpool favourite’s Anfield stint after admitting his future is up in the air.
Liverpool experienced a turbulent season that saw them drop as low as eighth with just 10 matches remaining. A remarkable late season surge comprising eight wins from 10 saw them ultimately secure a top four finish. The main driver behind their surprise struggles was undoubtedly their raft of injuries in defence.
Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all saw their seasons end prematurely through injury. Liverpool scrambled to sign Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies in January, but it was Nat Phillips and Rhys Wiliams that steadied the ship.
The former of those in particular was hailed for his manful performances. Without Phillips, it is fair to say Liverpool may be preparing for a Europa League campaign instead.
There is little room for sentiment in football, however. As such, the Reds wasted little time in acquiring a brand new centre-half.
In the short-term, however, Konate’s arrival will likely spell trouble for Phillips’ chances of gametime and that is something that has the 24-year-old considering if his Anfield stay may soon be over.
“I have loved every minute of it and would love to carry on playing for the club,” Phillips told the Liverpool Echo.
“But I’ve also got to take into consideration what is best for my career. That will depend on what role Liverpool see they do or don’t have for me and I’ll have to go from there.”
Liverpool now have seven senior centre-halves on their books. For a team that never operates with a back five, that number is simply too high.
Phillips could be the odd man out, and has already been linked with an in-Premier League transfer.
Regardless, per the Express, he is set to have his future decided upon holding talks with Jurgen Klopp later this summer.
Phillips unsurprised by Konate transfer
For as long as Phillips remains in red, he is determined to keep learning and now has a new case to study.
Responding to the Konate signing, Phillips said: “It’s no surprise (to see Konate signed). Liverpool is a huge club and they are always going to have huge competition for places. You always have to compete for your place in the team.
“Even though there is a lot of competition, I see it as another person to try and learn from. A new person’s game I get to see up close. To see how they play and see if I can take anything from that.
“At Liverpool there is always going to be high competition for a place on the pitch. No matter who you are, you don’t have a right to play for them and certainly not myself. I’d only played a handful of games when the new boys came in.
“It didn’t surprise me (when Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were signed in January). I knew the situation the club was in in terms of personnel, centre-backs and injuries and we needed more players in that position.”