Manchester United v Liverpool match in pictures
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Liverpool legend Ian Rush believes Jurgen Klopp is copying his approach towards Fabinho with summer signing Ibrahima Konate. Konate was Klopp’s sole signing of the summer, arriving from RB Leipzig in a move worth £36million at the beginning of the transfer window.
Rather than throw him in the deep end, Klopp has eased Konate into the first-team fold.
The French central defender made his debut against Crystal Palace last month and he was chosen to start ahead of Joel Matip for Liverpool’s emphatic 5-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
And club legend Rush thinks Klopp is adopting the same method with Konate as he did with Fabinho when the Brazilian joined the Reds from Monaco in July 2018.
“I was surprised to see Ibrahima Konate start against United but after his performance I could see why Jurgen Klopp went with him,” said Rush.
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“He looked a giant of a man and barely gave Ronaldo a kick.
“He’s obviously been making progress in training for him to start out of the blue like that and then to put in the performance that he did.”
However, despite his good performance, Rush doesn’t think the 22-year-old is guaranteed to start against Brighton on Saturday.
“But as impressive as he was, it’s not a given that he will start against Brighton.
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“Jurgen Klopp will look at the opposition and analyse their threat before deciding what personnel at the back suits the Brighton attack best,” he continued.
“It could be Konate, but it could just as easily be Joel Matip or even Joe Gomez – Klopp will have his own idea of who’s best to partner Virgil van Dijk in this game.
“If you play well you expect to start the next game, but Jurgen doesn’t think like that, he will pick what he feels is the best team to suit the opposition.”
Rush also feels that Klopp’s decision to rotate and make use of all the players in his squad is one of the reasons why squad morale is high at Anfield.
“It’s one of the reasons why Liverpool have such a good team spirit – it’s because everyone knows they belong to a squad and the likes of Sadio Mane or Joel Matip won’t get the hump if they’re left out of the starting eleven now and again,” he said.
“Everyone will get a chance to prove themselves and I’m curious to see who starts at the back at Anfield on Saturday.
“Klopp is really good at bedding players in and taking the pressure off them in the early stages of their Liverpool career. We saw it with Fabinho when he first came to the club – it seemed as though he was out in the cold but Klopp brought him in only when he felt he was ready to contribute to the machine and the Brazilian hasn’t looked back.
“Could we see something similar with Konate? Time will tell. It’s how Klopp works, but the players who come in to that situation deserve credit for their patience.”
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