Jurgen Klopp can’t ignore Ibrahima Konate’s two records as Liverpool’s quest nears the end – Mark Jones
The Reds defender was on the winning side again as his superb performance – in the absence of Virgil van Dijk – helped Liverpool win from behind in Southampton
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Of the 10 Liverpool outfield players who started against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday, only one stayed at St Mary’s from the start.
And when the bravado and fanfare subsided, surely everyone could understand Jurgen Klopp’s decision to herald the changes so soon after extra time and penalties, and with so much in store on the horizon.
In many ways, Klopp’s selection of Ibrahima Konate – who was on the pitch throughout Saturday’s game – was his easiest. Virgil van Dijk walked away with a minor issue at the weekend and he would always go easy on Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The latter absence would mean Joe Gomez would step in at right-back and that meant Konate would have to support Joel Matip at centre. Klopp may have checked last season’s heroes Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams by name in an interview published on Tuesday, but Phillips is technically still on loan at Bournemouth and Williams hasn’t kicked a ball for the Reds this season, both of which have been here not to be seen.
So Konate had to be the marathon man for the marathon men and once again the young Frenchman delivered.
It says a lot about the 22-year-old’s campaign that none other than Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher can name Konate’s supposed rival Matip in his own Premier League Team of the Season, but no Reds supporter bats an eyelid , if it is about the former RB Leipziger man, who is named in the page about the Cameroonian.
Both played here, of course, with Matip credited with the crucial winning goal when his header went into the net, but it was his younger team-mate who stood out with his defensive work both on the ground and in the air.
Konate is quick, but he’s also not afraid to go head-to-head with physical forwards. Armando Broja, just two years Konate’s junior, knew for certain he was in a game at St Mary’s and a jump by the defender left the Chelsea loanee looking more than a little dizzy. Many others have been similarly dazed this season.
And what a season that was.
In his first season in English football and just one second consistently playing at Champions League level, Konate has made 27 appearances for the Reds and, including penalties, has won 22 of those games. The other five were drawn.
The young Frenchman remains unbeaten for the Reds in all competitions and in fact, according to WhoScored, he hasn’t lost a league game he started in three and a half years leading up to a clash between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund in January 2019.
Amazing numbers, but he’s also mind-blowingly good.
Konate’s accounts make you see exactly why the Klopp and Liverpool transfer team didn’t hit the panic button and opt for a reputable defender when they were all dropping like flies last winter. The manager certainly wanted more than he got – Ozan Kabak on loan and the never-before-seen Ben Davies – but a move to Konate would have been on the cards at the time. Liverpool knew what was coming.
The question now is, can the man who never loses carry his records into the final week?
Liverpool’s epic odyssey comes to an end with another trophy in hand and another possibly a slip from elsewhere.
You just have to keep winning, and Konate knows all about it.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/ibrahima-konate-liverpool-fc-record-26992396 Jurgen Klopp can't ignore Ibrahima Konate's two records as Liverpool's quest nears the end - Mark Jones