Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that centre-back Ibrahima Konate is a ‘doubt’ for his side’s next Premier League outing against Newcastle United this coming weekend.
It is being reported that the Frenchman suffered a muscle injury during Liverpool’s previous league game against AFC Bournemouth. No official statement has been released by the club or the player.
The extent and nature of Konate’s injury is unknown but his absence leaves a huge gap to fill at the back for the German coach. The club are hoping he is not out for an extended period of time.
Konate has a poor injury record and many at Liverpool almost expect that he will miss a few games every season because of fitness problems. Nonetheless, a muscle injury this early into the season will surely cause more worries.
The 24-year-old had started the season as the primary centre-back partner to captain Virgil Van Dijk. He looked solid in both of Liverpool’s league games till now before suffering the injury.
The injury has also come at a bad time for the Reds as Klopp was just beginning to experiment a new style of play in which Konate would move over to right-back when Liverpool were in possession of the ball as Trent Alexander-Arnold moved into a right-sided defensive-midfielder.
This tactic seemed to work relatively well against Chelsea and Bournemouth but having to switch personnel this early in the process may upset the balance of the team. Joe Gomez or Joel Matip, the likely replacements, also may not be able to adapt to this system quickly.
The club is also unlikely to tap into the transfer market to find a replacement but many analysts have mentioned that they probably need a new backup centre-back as Liverpool always seem to suffer a lot of injuries in this area.
When Klopp was questioned about the depth of his squad in defensive areas, he said: “In an ideal world we have six, seven, eight centre-halves, and a cover for absolutely everything.”
The Scouse club were looking at Chelsea’s Levi Colwill earlier in the window but he has signed a new contract at Chelsea. They have since been more focused on bringing in midfielders and a new centre-back may not be a possibility anymore.
Liverpool are not in a situation of panic or meltdown as Gomez and Matip are both able deputies who have put in good performances for the club in the past. But they both lack the versatility that Konate brings to the team.
Matip sometimes lacks the aggressiveness required at centre-back while Gomez has not been in fine form recently. Nonetheless, one of them is set to start for Klopp on Sunday at St. James’ Park.