Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has given a glowing review of fellow centre-back Ibrahima Konate.
Speaking to liverpoolfc.com today, Van Dijk praised the Liverpool star for the progress he has made in the last year.
“He’s a very, very good player. What I like the most about him is the will to learn each and every day as well,” said the 31-year-old. “Obviously there are loads of things that can improve – and that’s good because he has time, he needs the experience. In my opinion, experience is a big thing for a centre-half to learn and to take with you.
“In his case, I’m very happy to see him develop, I’m very happy to see him shine on and off the pitch, he’s a fantastic character. But I can say that about the other two [Gomez and Matip] as well. We are very blessed as a club and I am very blessed to have these players around me as well.”
Konate comes in for praise
Virgil is right to point out the qualities of all three of his senior defensive colleagues at the club. Liverpool are indeed blessed with some absolutely top quality centre-backs at this moment in time.
Van Dijk himself will of course continue to be head and shoulders above that particular pack. But Konate could make further strides towards his level this season.
A lot was expected of the Frenchman when he signed for Liverpool last year. Given his price-tag, he was obviously brought in for the future as well as for the now. Despite that, there wasn’t a whole lot of expectation that he would be quite as good as he has been straight away.
For pretty much the whole of his Liverpool career so far, he has made a mockery of his twenty-three years. The big man has played like a seasoned veteran alongside Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez.
There have been one or two wobbly moments, but that’s absolutely normal. What isn’t normal is for a young centre-back to usurp his two more senior teammates to play in two cup finals at the end of the season.
That’s exactly what Konate did, though. And he was brilliant in both games, too.
Now that he’s shown everyone what he can do, the pressure will be on a little more next season. It remains to be seen what Jurgen Klopp sees as his pecking order at centre-back in 2022/23.
Van Dijk will certainly still be number one. If Konate isn’t number two for the big kick-off in two weeks time though, don’t be surprised if he is before the leaves have even started to fall from the trees.