Jurgen Klopp has suggested that injury to Ibrahima Konate has changed Liverpool’s transfer plan for Nat Phillips.
The centre-back had been expected to leave the club during the summer window. But speaking in his pre-Fulham press conference via Liverpool FC on YouTube, Klopp said Konate’s injury could mean Phillips now stays.
“Yeah, probably,” said the boss when asked if Phillips will be kept as cover. “It will influence the transfers – outgoing transfers – I would say.”
It’s potentially not the greatest news in the world for Phillips. The 25-year-old will still be fourth choice for Liverpool and is unlikely to see too much game-time.
Phillips set for fourth-choice role
From a Liverpool point of view, it’s good news that Phillips wasn’t sold earlier in the window.
Although he has been expected to leave for the last year or so, he still finds himself around the squad. The former Bolton man also picked up valuable minutes in pre-season, meaning he should be physically ready.
That should come in useful now that Konate looks set for an extended spell on the side-lines. The specifics of the Frenchman’s injury have yet to be released, but reading between the lines, he could be out for a little while.
In terms of like-for-like, this obviously weakens Liverpool. Konate had shown himself to be one of the best up and coming centre-backs in European football.
Without wishing to downplay Phillips’ ability, he isn’t quite on the same level as his younger colleague.
Despite that, Big Nat has always performed capably when given the chance for Liverpool. There’s a reason why The Reds value him at over £10m and he’ll do his very best whenever called upon.
It’s also worth noting that, should he be needed, he may well have Virgil Van Dijk alongside him. During the 2020/21 season when he was a first-team regular, Phillips was usually partnered with Rhys Williams. With respect to Rhys, he’s no Virgil.
In an ideal scenario, it won’t come to that. Klopp still has Joel Matip and Joe Gomez ahead of Phillips, and both are top centre-back’s. As a result, it’s likely that Nat will feature in the domestic cup games. If he can perform well, perhaps Liverpool can even raise his asking price once more for the January window.