Former Premier League defender Bacary Sagna has backed Ibrahima Konate to step up for Liverpool in the absence of Virgil van Dijk in the coming weeks.Van Dijk, like many other Liverpool players, has not been at his best so far this season. The central defender, though, remains one of the most important stars in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
This is why the Netherlands international’s latest injury will prove to be a huge blow to the Reds. Van Dijk notably suffered an injury during the team’s 3-1 defeat to Brentford in the Premier League on Monday, January 2.
It initially seemed Klopp had taken the Dutchman off at half-time as a precaution that night against the Bees. However, it then emerged that the player’s injury is more serious than first thought.
Van Dijk has since been sent to have scans to identify the extent of his hamstring problem. While a timeframe has not been set for his return, he is expected to be sidelined for at least a few weeks.
Liverpool now face the prospect of having to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Brentford without their main defender. Konate is expected to step in for the 31-year-old in the next few weeks.
Sagna, though, is confident that Konate will excel for the Reds in Van Dijk’s absence. The Frenchman pointed out how the central defender impressed for Les Bleus at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and believes he can do the same for the Anfield outfit. The Arsenal great told Midnite:
“Ibrahima Konate has been brilliant since he joined Liverpool and will be able to cover for Virgil van Dijk while he’s injured, he had a great World Cup too. The pressure of playing for the national team is the most challenging thing because of the pressure. If he can also handle the pressure of playing for Liverpool, I think he will be amazing.”
Konate made five appearances for France in the FIFA World Cup and helped them finish second in the competition.
How has Konate fared for Liverpool?
The Reds acquired Konate’s services from Bundesliga club RB Leipzig for £36 million in 2021. He took little to no time to settle at Anfield, making 29 appearances across all competitions.Konate, though, has had injury problems of his own during his time on Merseyside so far. A knee problem has seen him restricted to just five appearances for the club this season.It now remains to be seen if the 23-year-old can put his fitness issues behind him and star for Klopp’s side in Van Dijk’s absence. He is expected to play alongside Joel Matip.