Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips says that fellow centre-back Ibrahima Konate can easily achieve his remarkable potential at Anfield.
Following last season’s injury struggles, the Reds now have a number of impressive options at the back. Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip have returned from their absences to reforge a partnership. However, Joe Gomez – who also had a long-term injury last season – is also back to full fitness.
Meanwhile, new £36million signing has joined Gomez on the bench, with Phillips in reserve.
France Under-21 international Konate impressed in pre-season with his control on the ball and strength, but has yet to make his Premier League debut.
Still, Phillips has insisted that Konate’s physicality – among other traits – can help him improve as the season goes on.
“He’s slotted in perfectly,” Phillips told the Liverpool Echo of Konate.
“As a person he gets on with the lads really well, he’s not shy but he looks like he really wants to learn and improve. He’s motivated and works hard.
“From what I’ve seen of him in pre-season, he looks like a top, top player and a top defender. Physically he’s unbelievable. He’s so young and still has plenty of time to improve and I’m sure he will do that at Liverpool.”
Phillips may face a struggle to earn minutes amid the competition at the back for Liverpool.
However, the presence of star attackers such as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in training is helping him improve off the pitch.
Phillips lauds Liverpool training opportunities
“The whole time I’ve been training with the first-team, I’ve had to perform against those boys; Mo, Sadio, Bobby [Roberto Firmino], [Diogo] Jota since he’s come in, Divock [Origi] these attackers that are world-class only improve you as a player because you’re being tested at the top level every single day,” he added.
“It’s sink or swim and you have to adapt to that which is something I’ve been doing over the last few years and as a result of that it makes you a better player.”
Amid his potential lack of opportunities, it looked as if Phillips could leave in the summer. Indeed, a loan or a permanent deal looked on the cards.
However, he signed a new deal late on in the transfer window after playing a crucial role in helping Liverpool qualify for the Champions League last season.