Ibrahima Konate vs Joe Gomez: John Barnes weighs-up Liverpool’s new contest at centre-back


Ibrahima Konate is on his way to Liverpool this summer (Picture: Getty Images)

John Barnes does not think Ibrahima Konate’s signing for Liverpool necessarily means he will displace Joe Gomez in Jurgen Klopp’s first team plans and can see a genuine contest for a starting berth.

The 22-year-old is moving to Anfield from RB Leipzig after Liverpool triggered his £36m release clause and he will arrive on 1 July.

The Reds will be hoping this puts to an end their injury nightmare at centre-back this season as they struggled to cope with the long-term problems suffered by Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

Van Dijk is certain to return to the starting line-up as soon as he is fit, but the arrival of Konate means there is doubt over who would partner the Dutchman if all the options in defence are fit.

Barnes does not think the Frenchman is guaranteed to stroll straight into the first team and Gomez is still very much in the conversation to start.

‘I don’t believe this signing will spell the end for Joe Gomez,’ Barnes told www.BettingOdds.com. ‘Joe is one of the main centre-backs at Liverpool at this moment in time. Just because Konate is coming in, that doesn’t mean he’s going to play well and take Joe’s place in the team.

Joe Gomez is back in training after his serious knee injury (Picture: Getty Images)

‘When Naby Keita came in, people expected him to take Jordan Henderson or whoever’s place in that midfield but that hasn’t worked out, so you can’t look at the Konate situation and assume that spells the end for Joe. If Konate comes in and doesn’t fit, then he won’t play.

‘Joe is an England international and he’s in a different position to say Nat Phillips because he can play all the time anyway and he’ll push Konate for that position. It won’t spell the end for Joe but it will be good for Liverpool to have more options.’

Phillips is likely to fall down the pecking order despite an impressive end to the season as Liverpool put on a string of good performances to finish third in the Premier League.

Both he and Rhys Williams, who deputised for the senior centre-backs, could head out on loan next season.

On the announcement of the deal, Konate spoke of his excitement to join the former Premier League and European champions, although his attention is now on the Under-21 European Championships with France.

’I’m really happy to be joining such a massive club like Liverpool,’ Konate said upon confirmation of the deal.

‘It’s a really exciting moment for me and my family and I am really looking forward to meeting my new teammates, the staff and getting started on this new chapter.

‘Right now, my focus is on the Under-21 European Championships with France, but after this competition I know I will be joining one of the best teams in the world and that gives me a great feeling.

‘I have worked very hard for many years to get to this point, but I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at RB Leipzig and all the people I worked with there – the coaches, my teammates, the staff and especially the fans.

‘Your support helped me grow up during my time there and become not only a better player, but a better man and I will always be grateful for it.’


MORE : Jurgen Klopp ‘excited’ to welcome ‘quality’ Ibrahima Konate to Liverpool


MORE : Ibrahima Konate speaks out after Liverpool confirm £36million transfer

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