Jurgen Klopp will hand summer signing Ibrahima Konate his Liverpool debut against either Crystal Palace on Saturday or Norwich City on Tuesday night, according to The Athletic.
The Anfield natives produced a thriller in the Champions League at home to AC Milan on Wednesday to win 3-2. Klopp rotated his options for the visit of Stefano Pioli’s Rossoneri to Merseyside. But there was no role among the 16 who featured for Konate.
Klopp gave Virgil van Dijk the night off with Joe Gomez coming in to partner Joel Matip. The Dutch enforcer has played every minute of the Reds’ Premier League campaign so far, after making his return from a cruciate ligament injury against Norwich last month.
Konate is yet to feature for Klopp in any competitive fixture since joining Liverpool from RB Leipzig in May. The Reds triggered a £36m release clause in the 22-year-old’s contract at the Red Bull Arena after seeing Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez all spend time on the sidelines.
Van Dijk only made eight appearances in 2020/21 before his season ended following the Merseyside derby. Gomez played 12 times before rupturing his patella tendon on England duty. Matip, meanwhile, sustained a season-ending ankle ligament injury after 12 outings.
Wednesday marked Gomez’s first start and only his second appearance since picking up his knee injury last October. While Matip has played every minute available this term in the Premier League and Champions League. With the Reds also keeping three clean sheets.
Klopp will continue to manage his defenders’ workloads with the Merseysiders playing two more games in the next five-days. The Liverpool boss will, therefore, look to hand Konate his debut against either Crystal Palace on Saturday or Norwich in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
Who should Klopp hand Konate his Liverpool debut against?
Liverpool somewhat lacked their established defensive resilience at times against AC Milan without Van Dijk forming his usual formidable wall. The Rossoneri occasionally found ways to get in behind Matip and Gomez with the pair sometimes on different wavelengths.
Klopp will know the potential problems of juggling his centre-back pairing while looking to hand Konate his Liverpool debut. He will base his opinion of when to field the Frenchman on what he sees in training. Trying to avoid the same lack of cohesion seen on Wednesday.
But the German is also aware of what the U21 international can offer the Reds once given a chance. Klopp said of Konate, via the Evening Standard, after Liverpool agreed a deal with Leipzig: “We are signing a player who will add to the quality we already have. His physical attributes are very impressive; he is quick, he is very strong, and he is dominant in the air.”