Liverpool need to be patient with Konate, says Ljinders ahead of Norwich clash

By Sports Desk September 20, 2021

Jurgen Klopp's assistant Pep Ljinders called for Liverpool to be patient with new signing Ibrahima Konate ahead of their EFL Cup tie with Norwich City.

The centre-back joined for a fee reported to be in the region of £36million (€42.5m) from RB Leipzig in the off-season and made his top-flight debut against Crystal Palace on Saturday, though he remains behind Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in the pecking order.

However, Ljinders suggested Van Dijk was an exception to the rule as he used Andy Robertson as an example of how long it can take to settle into life at Anfield.

"Robbo said to him [Konate] 'we all needed time to adjust to the style'," Ljinders told Monday's news conference.

"Virgil is probably one of the only ones to come and settle in straight away.

"Ibrahima is a beast physicaly. He can catch so many players. He's settling in well. He's still so young. It was great for him to get his debut and move on."

Alexander-Arnold missed Saturday's ninth consecutive top-flight win over Palace due to illness, while Thiago Alcantara started but was withdrawn as a second-half substitute due to a calf injury.

As the Reds travel to Norwich, who are winless in their last 15 against Klopp's side, Ljinders confirmed the pair would be absent and also commented on Harvey Elliott, who suffered a serious ankle injury in the win over Leeds United on September 12.

"He [Trent Alexander-Arnold] wanted to play but we took the decision to leave him out," Ljinders continued.

"He's still not feeling 100 per cent. He will not be in the squad for tomorrow but hopefully will be ready for the weekend.

"We try to support him [Elliot] as much as we can. Our group is a proper family. Naby [Keita] had tears in his eyes by the side of the pitch when it happened. In a good moment [of form] we lost one of our best midfielders."

Per Opta, of the 742 defenders to play at least 20 games in Europe's top-five leagues since the beginning of the 2019-20 season, only Bruno Alves at Parma (81 per cent) posted a better aerial duel success rate than Konate (78 per cent).

His tackle success rate of 66.67 per cent sits right in line with those Klopp called upon at centre-back in a see-saw season, level with Gomez – such a key component of the title-winning team from 2019-20 – and well ahead of Ozan Kabak, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Liverpool but is now at Norwich.

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