Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has delivered a harsh verdict on Ibrahima Konate and says he ‘disappears at times’.
The 22-year-old returned to the starting line up on Sunday as the Reds beat Championship opposition Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Diogo Jota’s 78th minute strike was enough to book them a spot in the next round of the competition.
Liverpool now face a difficult semi-final clash at Wembley against Premier League title rivals Manchester City in April.
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Konate has made 19 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions so far this season following his £36 million arrival from RB Leipzig in the summer. The Frenchman has battled it out with Joel Matip for a starting spot alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Despite making an impressive start to life at Anfield, Lawrenson believes there’s still more to come from the central defender.
“Konate is learning, we know he’s going to be good, great physics, quick enough,” he told Off The Ball.
“I just think defensively if you watch yesterday and if you watched West Ham as well, he disappears at times from his position and as good as Van Dijk is, he can’t put his finger in the dike every time something happens.”
Manager Jurgen Klopp discussed Konate’s impact this season prior to the first leg of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal in January.
“First and foremost, what players should always be: they should be themselves in the first moment,” the boss said. “That’s why we signed them.
“He played games pretty early for us and I think we all agree he is an exceptional talent: physically outstanding, good footballer as well. When you are that skilled, that quick, that strong, it’s pretty normal – especially when you are young – that your concentration level drops from time to time.
“Tactically, we played obviously very different to Leipzig, they played quite frequently there with three in the back, which is different as well. He had to adapt and has to adapt still to his teammates left and right of him, all these kind of things.”