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Konate or Gomez? Barnes picks Liverpool centre-half partner for Van Dijk

The Reds legend believes the money invested in the promising Frenchman this summer will see him land a starting berth

Liverpool legend John Barnes believes the money invested in Ibrahima Konate this summer makes him the leading contender to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Reds’ back four.

Jurgen Klopp is hoping to remain at full strength in that department throughout 2021-22 after seeing his options decimated by injury last season.

The ranks at Anfield have been bolstered by the £36 million ($50m) arrival of French star Konate from RB Leipzig , with the 22-year-old looking to edge above England international Joe Gomez in the pecking order.

What has been said?

Reds icon Barnes – speaking in association with BonusCodeBets – told Goal : “It will be interesting to see who starts in central defence for Liverpool alongside Virgil van Dijk next season. In the long term Joe Gomez will be fine, but he’s young and he’s had his injury problems. 

“Having splashed out so much money on a centre-back in Ibrahima Konate, they’ll probably start with him alongside Van Dijk – presuming Van Dijk is fit for the start of the season – but it’s always good to have competition for places.”

Will others move on?

Rhys Williams Nat Phillips Liverpool GFX

Having seen their squad pushed to breaking point in 2020-21, Liverpool ended the campaign with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams forging a promising partnership.

Both could however be on the move in the current transfer window. Goal has learned that Phillips is a target for Burnley and Brighton , while a loan switch has been mooted for 20-year-old academy graduate Williams.

Quizzed on whether he sees that pair sticking around, Barnes said: “Phillips and Williams have big decisions ahead of them. 

“Is it time for them to go off and make a name for themselves in the first team at other clubs? Because if they stay at Liverpool, they’re not going to be playing in the first team, though they will be important parts of the squad.  

“It’s up to them as individuals to decide what’s best for their careers. Do they stay and try to stake a claim, be a part of the squad and play now and again?  

“At 24 years old, Phillips probably wouldn’t want to do that, but modern players are quite happy to be at a big club and be part of a squad, whereas probably in the old days you’d want to move on because you’re not playing regularly.”

Liverpool are due to open the new season away at Norwich on August 14.

Further reading

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