Ibrahima Konate explains why Virgil van Dijk doesn’t always give him advice at Liverpool

Ibrahima Konate has been hugely impressive for Liverpool since joining in a £36million transfer last summer and has quickly earned the respect of teammate Virgil van Dijk

Ibrahima Konate (right) opened up on his "great relationship" with Virgil van Dijk (Image: Getty Images)ByFreddie KeighleySports Reporter

  • 14:36, 14 May 2022
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Ibrahima Konate appreciates how Virgil van Dijk allows him "to make decisions" as the duo continue to forge a formidable partnership at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

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Konate, 22, is a relatively new kid on the block at Anfield having joined from RB Leipzig in a £36million transfer last summer. But he has already made a big impression by making 25 appearances, starting both legs in the Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals.

In domestic competitions, the young Frenchman has shared minutes with Joel Matip as Van Dijk's colleague at centre-back, giving him the chance to develop alongside a master of his trade. The Dutchman, 30, is widely regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League and an expert in the art of defending.

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However, the relationship between Van Dijk and Konate is anything but one-sided as the more junior of the pair feels he has ample opportunity to express himself. "Virgil? Yeah he gives me some advice for big games," Konate said ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea.

"But he also has this quality where we have this great relationship and he allows me to decide in each match, to make decisions. He lets me play to my own qualities, and I think that is a very good aspect of his leadership.

"But I think it's the whole team who defend, to be honest. It's not just the back four. The midfield and even the attackers, they all have a role to play in allowing us to do what we do. We can only defend with that level of support from up front."

Who should partner Virgil van Dijk in the FA Cup final: Ibrahima Konate or Joel Matip? Have your say in the comments!

Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate celebrate winning the Carabao Cup in February
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Image:
Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Konate played 90 minutes in all five of Liverpool's FA Cup games leading up to the final and he will hope to keep his spot in the starting XI to face the Blues. Matip is another classy operator in central defence and lined up at the back in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, so the 30-year-old also has claims to start alongside Van Dijk.

The Cameroonian got the nod in February's Carabao Cup final against Chelsea but came off in the 90th minute for Konate. The Reds went on to win 11-10 on penalties to collect the first piece of silverware on offer for the season. Liverpool can still theoretically add three more trophies to their haul in the form of the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League, but their chances of a top-flight triumph are dwindling in the face of Manchester City's charge towards the title.

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