Ibrahima Konate had a few struggles against Brighton on Saturday. Liverpool have a decision to make on how to proceed from here.
Liverpool went to Old Trafford last weekend and won 5-0, as you’ve probably heard. It was a notable game for 1000 reasons but one of those was the team selection.
Jurgen Klopp didn’t go with the obvious best XI and instead rotated a little. Sadio Mane didn’t start, for instance, but more interesting was the decision at the back.
Ibrahima Konate started alongside Virgil van Dijk. It was his first appearance for over a month and it came in one of the biggest games of the season, up against some of the world’s best attackers.
But Konate was fantastic in the game, making a good impression on the coaching staff.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip coming in to face Preston North End on Wednesday, it appeared possible that Liverpool had a rotation in mind. That proved true against Brighton.
Konate again started alongside Van Dijk at the back only this time, we didn’t get the same kind of performance. So what does that mean for Liverpool and their plans?
Konate struggles vs Brighton
The Frenchman didn’t quite click against a very impressive Brighton side. For instance, his passing success rate was just 80%. Only Mohamed Salah completed a lower percentage but that’s particular low for a centre-back.
Van Dijk completed 92% in comparison.
Defensively, Konate wasn’t awful. He made four interceptions, won his headers and made a tackle. But he did struggle with his position at times.
Brighton’s busy attack saw them drop off Liverpool’s forwards for most of the game. That led to Konate going walkabout on occasion and he was MIA for their equalising goal.
The truth is, though, that Konate will make errors. He’s still only 22, playing for a new club, in a new system, and with new teammates. This was a tricky game to play in, too, given Brighton’s unusual style. It was a little inevitable that Konate would slip up.
Liverpool need to decide how they can handle that, then. Is the odd mistake okay as Konate gets used to things? It could cost the Reds further points but they can also pretty much guarantee that the defender will be fully integrated by the end of the year.
But it’s up for debate how much that’s worth. Liverpool can actually afford to take their time with Konate as both Matip and Gomez are available.
Time will tell what Liverpool value most here. Both moving forward with Konate as a key piece and leaving him out for a bit come with positive. It just depends on what they’re willing to risk.