Ibrahima Konate will get the nod to start alongside Virgil van Dijk in Liverpool’s Premier League opener against Chelsea.
Konate is now comfortably the Reds’ best partner for Van Dijk, having seen off competition from Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. As a result, it was a slight surprise to see Matip given the start in yesterday’s friendly against Bayern Munich.
The 31-year-old struggled trying to play behind Trent Alexander-Arnold though. His lack of pace showed glaringly on a couple of occasions. And The Athletic now report that Konate is likely to come back in for the Chelsea match.
Konate wasn’t perfect when he came on either it must be said. The Frenchman could have definitely dealt with the winning goal better. But he looks like comfortably the best option for the time being.
In the meantime, there’s still a final pre-season friendly to play, as Liverpool take on Darmstadt on Monday. The XI Jurgen Klopp puts out at Deepdale will give us a better indication of where the boss’ head is at with regards to the rest of the team.
MORE LIVERPOOL STORIES
Konate set for Chelsea return
It would be interesting to hear why Klopp decided to go with Matip over Konate yesterday.
The rest of the team was perhaps what you’d expect to be the one lining up at Stamford Bridge on the 13th. There’s a question mark over whether Curtis Jones retains his place at the base of the midfield, while two of the front three spots are still up for grabs.
But as things stands, Jones does look likely to stick in the 6, and Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota are well-placed to keep their spaces, too. Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez might have something to say about that, mind.
Nevertheless, Matip aside, it’s a safe bet that against top-level opposition, this was what Klopp considers to be his best side right now.
With that in mind, you can’t rule out the fact that the manager was considering the Cameroonian over Konate for Chelsea.
On the evidence he was given in Singapore, he no longer will be. It isn’t that Matip did all that badly, but he really doesn’t look suited to covering such a vast amount of ground. Gomez would feel like a more natural deputy for Ibou given that he has often operated as a right-back anyway.
Thankfully, it sounds like good sense has prevailed and – barring an untimely injury – Konate will be back in for the upcoming big game.