Klopp already named ‘problem’ with $44m Liverpool ace and just saw more evidence

Liverpool defender Joël Matip produced a strong performance on Sunday as the Reds beat Brentford 3-0 in the Premier League. It was only the fourth time in 12 top-flight matches this season that they have been able to maintain a clean sheet, and Matip was instrumental.

Unfortunate to be booked after what was a perfectly good tackle on Christian Nørgaard, Matip made a key sliding block to deny the Norwegian in the second half, and also launched the move that led to Liverpool’s first goal by robbing Yoane Wissa with a textbook piece of counter-pressing.

Jürgen Klopp may not have been planning to start the Cameroonian, but after Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté both picked up injuries in the week, he was the natural solution. The manager said afterward that it remains to be seen just how serious Konaté’s injury is (via Liverpool’s official website).

But journalist Fabrice Hawkins has reported that the timeline is a manageable two weeks. He could, in that sense, be a bigger loss to France than to Liverpool, having had to withdraw from Didier Deschamps’ squad for the upcoming internationals against Gibraltar and Greece.

With this latest setback, though, Konaté has regrettably proved his manager right. Speaking to RMC Sport (shared by the French outlet on Twitter/X) last month, Klopp insisted he ‘loved absolutely everything’ about the center-back, but admitted that the only ‘problem’ is that he encounters ‘injury problems from time to time’.

Indeed, even though we’re only in November, this is already Konaté’s second lay-off of the season after he missed the two games preceding the September international break at the beginning of the campaign. The Frenchman had arrived at Anfield with a checkered fitness record.

Klopp already named 'problem' with $44m Liverpool ace and just saw more evidence

Jürgen Klopp had to make a change at center-back as Liverpool took on Brentford (Image: Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

But he seemed to assuage those concerns in his first season when he was available for all but two matches. However, he would then go on to miss 20 of Liverpool’s 52 games last year, or just under 40 per cent, and his problems have continued in the early part of the current campaign.

In the immediate term, this may not be too big a problem for Klopp and Liverpool. Matip, impressive on Sunday, has returned to form this season after struggling in 2022/23, and while Konaté would be the first choice to play in the vital clash with Manchester City a week on Saturday, the former Schalke man has at least regained the confidence of most supporters.

Perhaps, the bigger worry, then is the long-term ramifications. Even at 24, Konaté, signed for $44m (£36m/€41m) from RB Leipzig, has established himself as one of the top 10 to 15 center-backs in Europe, and Liverpool likely plans to build the back four around him after captain Virgil van Dijk moves on.

If injuries are to be a feature throughout his Anfield career, though, then the club simply won’t be able to rely on him this manner. There’s no obvious solution to this ‘problem’, but what is clear is that Konaté will require special management to give him the best possible chance of staying fit from his return until the end of the season.

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