Ibrahima Konate is ending his first week of training with Liverpool, and both vice-captain James Milner and assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders are suitably impressed.
Konate has benefited from a lengthy break after the Under-21 Euros, and joined the Reds squad on day one of pre-season in Austria on Monday.
The Frenchman has taken part in every session, training alongside the likes of Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk as he looks to settle into the centre-back group.
Liverpool have shared a number of clips throughout the training camp so far, and one of the most eye-catching was a sumptuous, off-the-bar finish from their new No. 5:
? @IbrahimaKonate_ doing ???? is just one of the reasons to watch our latest episode of Inside Training ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 15, 2021
After Konate’s effort slams into the turf, leaving Loris Karius rooted, Lijnders can be heard shouting: “Technique! Technique! Technique!”
Jurgen Klopp‘s assistant generally leads sessions as the bright-eyed coach, and the Dutchman has also been providing a tour column for the club’s official website.
This has allowed Lijnders to lavish praise on Liverpool’s new signing, saying “he has adapted well to what we want” after only five days with the squad.
“You see him, he is really calm on the ball, he knows how to attack and when to step in when with the ball, when to play the outside pass, when to play the inside pass, when to switch the game,” Lijnders explained.
“He has a good understanding of the game, attacking-wise.
“Defensively, he is strong and it is something we wanted because we play high – our centre-halves and full-backs need to be able to catch players when they break.
“Because when you play so offensively, when players slip through we do, of course, have Ali but we firstly want to catch them with our legs – solve the problem with legs.
‘One thing Ibou has is legs!”
A lack of pace at the back was one of Liverpool’s biggest issues in the absence of Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip last season, with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams stepping in admirably but struggling in a high line.
Now, with the three first-choice centre-backs fit, Konate joins a group blessed with genuine speed to allow the Reds to properly implement their defensive setup again.
“It’s a strange situation: you obviously go from last season not having too many centre-halves and now we’ve got top-class centre-halves all over the place! It’s fantastic,” James Milner told LiverpoolFC.com.
“Nat is obviously here and Davo, Rhysy obviously and all the guys in there.
“It’s a great standard of centre-half that we’ve got with everyone pushing each other and that’s exactly what you need.”
The likes of Phillips, Williams and Ben Davies are unlikely to push Konate too much as a starting option, but the situation Milner has laid out is certainly more beneficial.
Milner has already caught glimpses of his new team-mate, and added: “He certainly looks like a central defender!”
“He’s obviously very strong, he’s good on the ball, a very good defender positionally,” he said. “I’ve not seen much of him in training but a couple of things he has done have stood out.”
Not a bad first impression from the 22-year-old!