France manager Didier Deschamps has admitted that he selected Arsenal youngster William Saliba ahead of Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate.
“Yes, I’m following. He’s (Konate) in a team which is competing in the Champions League final and for the title in England,” said Deschamps.
“But since he’s been at Liverpool, he’s mostly played in a four-man defence and there is competition. I brought William last time and he always plays in a back three. It’s either one or the other. It’s very competitive and that’s very good. It allows for the veterans to not get too comfortable.”
Konate can count himself a little unfortunate to miss out. However, Saliba, on-loan at Marseille this season, was voted Ligue Young Player of the Year himself.
As Deschamps points out, the 21-year-old has been involved before, picking up two caps so far. Konate can’t be far behind him though, having captained his country at last summer’s Under-21 European Championships.
Konate knocking on the door
Despite being left out on this occasion, Konate should be encouraged by Deschamps’ words. The World Cup-winning coach is known to have his favourites, so it’s nice to hear that Ibou is at least in his thoughts.
And how could he not be? Konate has risen to prominence to become on of the most impressive young players in the Premier League.
Liverpool are so far yet to lose a game he’s played in since his £35m move last year. That’s testament to the quality he has shown.
Saliba will return to Arsenal next season where he’s expected to take on a big role for Mikel Arteta. Whether he can have the same impact as Konate will potentially determine who wins this battle in the long-term.
Arsenal usually play with a back four themselves, so perhaps Deschamps reasoning will come under a little scrutiny from that point of view.
Deschamps doesn’t always appear to go with the best options available to him, more the players that will best fit his system. If Konate can start and lead Liverpool to success in the Champions League final next weekend though, surely he can’t be ignored much longer.