Liverpool already repeated Ibrahima Konaté transfer this summer as Jürgen Klopp set to be rewarded

Advertisements

It remains to be seen whether Ibrahima Konaté starts for Liverpool in Paris later today. Jürgen Klopp must decide whether it will be the Frenchman or Joël Matip to partner Virgil van Dijk.

Given that he’s started five of the Reds’ six Champions League knockout matches, there’s a very real prospect that Konaté gets the nod in his hometown. Exactly one year on from his arrival at Liverpool, he might be playing in the biggest game in club football.

After Liverpool’s gamble of entering the 2020/21 season with three senior center-backs backfired spectacularly, the club wanted a rapid solution. And so, Konaté was through the door before spring had even turned to summer.

READ MORE:Liverpool can sign own Kevin de Bruyne for free but must beware Trent Alexander-Arnold danger

READ MORE: Liverpool could receive eight-figure transfer boost even after Jürgen Klopp experiment failed

That meant he was able to join up with his new teammates on 12 July as Liverpool’s pre-season camp got underway in Austria. According to The Athletic’s Simon Hughes, coaching staff believe that this made his life much easier. ‘The four-week trip’, Hughes writes, bought him ‘the equivalent of six months’ integration time’.

Konaté has looked nothing short of a perfect fit during his first season at Anfield. That’s partly down to a set of attributes he already possessed before he moved to Liverpool – such as his pace, strength, and ability to carry the ball – but it’s also down to the extensive preparation he enjoyed.

Konaté was able to forge an on-field relationship and understanding with his new teammates, above all predominant center-back partner Van Dijk and right-sided full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. But beyond that, he was able to adapt to surely one of the most aggressive defensive set-ups in European football. Konaté and Van Dijk are often stationed on the halfway line, with Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson effectively acting as wingers. For a defender, it’s a truly daunting amount of space to leave behind you.

Advertisements

It might be said that Liverpool’s back four have it easier than most because of the side’s capacity to dominate games. But on the other hand, the bravery, cohesion and timing required to execute the risk / reward high line should not be underestimated. It’s almost an art form.

And even regardless of the position, pre-season is especially important for new arrivals at Liverpool and their rivals. Why? Because they’re involved in so many matches when the action resumes.

Up until this week, Liverpool had been playing three times a week for the best part of two months, dating back to the March international break. ‘Break’ should really be in inverted commas because so many of their starters continued playing for their countries. In fact, if you want to find the last time every Liverpool player had a week’s break between games, you have to go all the way back to 21-28 August, when the Reds faced Burnley and then Chelsea.

Pre-season training and in-season training are markedly different, with the latter shaped by recovery demands and the identity of the next opponent rather than the manager’s overarching philosophy. The demands of the schedule mean that players do not get the same quality of education.

And those demands are only growing. Next season, the winter World Cup will compress the domestic calendar, and the year after, there are three more Champions League group stage matchdays pencilled in.

It might be said that Luis Díaz has slotted into the Liverpool side seamlessly after joining in late January. That is true, but it’s telling that the speed of his adaptation has left Klopp stunned – he’s an exception to the rule.

Encouragingly, Liverpool have made an early start to their business this year too, confirming the signing of Fábio Carvalho this week. The 19-year-old should also be ready for the first day of the pre-season.

Whether Carvalho is thrown in at the deep end in the manner of Harvey Elliott or embedded more gradually through the domestic cups, the five-week window will be invaluable. Having already sealed this £ 5m deal, Liverpool have a clear incentive to tie up as much business as they can in the next month.

.

Advertisements

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*