There is a clear dilemma for Jurgen Klopp. With Konate returning to training and ready for selection, Matip has his work cut out to retain his place alongside Virgil Van Dijk. Liverpool has had problems at the back this season and could the Frenchman fix those issues?
Joel Matip has been solid for the Reds over the years despite his antagonising injury record. An injury record that has led to him retiring from the Cameroonian national team as he looks to focus on club football. The 31-year-old has plenty of experience and has looked a stellar partner to Van Dijk over recent seasons, bringing the Premier League and Champions League trophies to Merseyside.
His return to action couldn’t have come sooner for Liverpool as Joe Gomez struggled to keep out goals at the emersion of the Premier League. Gomez, having just come back himself, struggled with a reoccurring knee injury he sustained last season. Klopp is desperate for a tight-knit defence, after recent poor defensive performances that were highlighted in the 4-1 defeat away to Napoli in the Champions League.
With the international break ending, club football is returning, and the upcoming month brings tough fixtures for the Reds. Excellent form is going to be required at the back if Liverpool is to have a successful October. The dilemma for Jurgen Klopp is whom he decides to pick as the other centre back in the back four.
Ibrahima Konate excelled last season for Liverpool and sparkled in the Champions League campaign that guided them to a tenth European cup final. The Frenchman has 2.50 interceptions and 3.50 ariel duels won per 90 and was particularly brilliant against SL Benfica. Propping up with a goal in the away leg and a MOTM performance. He also has fantastic recovery pace along with a strong physique that works hand in hand to halt opposition strikers.
However, when comparing Konate’s stats to Joel Matip, the Cameroonian compares well defensively, with 3.72 interceptions and 2.11 ariel duals won per 90. Despite his position, Joel Matip is a very progressive defender, he carries the ball well, and was highlighted by his goal against Leeds last season. The 31-year-old has an outstanding 8.57 progressive carries per 90 which displays his desire to create chances from Centre back.
Konate is a very modern centre-back, as he is required to be in Jurgen Klopp’s system. Nonetheless, he is not as progressive as Joel Matip as he only has 3.61 progressive carries per 90. The Frenchman is much more aggressive and enjoys duels with the opposition, with 9.11 pressures per 90. Konate, being that bit younger and having fewer appearances, is liable to errors with 0.06 errors compared to Matip who impressively, only has 0.03 errors per 90.
Konate is an excellent talent and will be the partner for Van Dijk in the future, however, Matip’s experience gives him the edge for the majority of the season. On the other hand, fixture congestion will force Jurgen Klopp into changes and having the option of Konate is a fantastic option to have, with many Liverpool fans happy with his performance thus far at the club.