Liverpool coach Pep Lijnders believes Ibrahima Konate deserves special praise for his display against Manchester United. The 22-year-old stepped into the side magnificently.
Playing against Manchester United isn’t actually that easy, even if Liverpool made it seem that way. Their front four is loaded with talent – players who can worry any defender.
Yet Jurgen Klopp decided to throw Ibrahima Konate into the team at Old Trafford. We haven’t seen the Frenchman all that often this season but Klopp clearly believed in the 22-year-old.
Konate partnered Virgil van Dijk and while that can make the game easier, it also means you’ll be targetted. Teams would much rather attack Van Dijk’s partner than the Dutchman himself, after all.
And that’s how the game turned out. Van Dijk didn’t have to make any tackles, nor did press at all during the game. Konate, on the other hand, had work to do.
He made two tackles in the game, pressed five times and picked up an interception. Tellingly, he also recovered 14 loose balls – twice that of Van Dijk. United were deliberately trying to play the ball into Konate’s space.
But he handled them magnificently. We imagine Klopp threw him in for that exact reason – that his pace and strength would mop up after Liverpool’s sensational pressing.
And that’s how it went. Liverpool pressed high, forced United into poor passes, and Konate got to the loose ball first. Time and time again.
Lijnders on Konate
Pep Lijnders believes Konate deserves extra praise for his performance. He singled out the youngster on Tuesday, describing him as a ‘beast’.
“First of all, big compliment to Ibou,” he said, per Liverpoolfc.com. “Also a big compliment to our last line, I think, but especially for Ibou.
“Coming in against United is never easy, it shows over the last years the results there and how we performed there.
“How he controlled together with Robbo, Trent and Virg – that’s why I want to say a big compliment to our last line – how he controlled these movements and this speed was from an absolute top level.
“I said it the last time, Ibou is a beast.”
Lijnders actually talked for some time on what Konate brought to the side. His pace, strength, and positioning all played key roles, preventing United from attacking with speed.
It’s clear he made a wonderful impression on Liverpool’s coaching staff. We’ll surely see a lot more of Konate in the coming weeks.