Soccer

‘Top-class centre-halves all over the place!’ – Milner embraces ‘strange’ situation at Liverpool

The Reds found themselves short on defensive options at times last season, but Jurgen Klopp is now well stocked at the back

James Milner has been impressed by Ibrahima Konate’s early showings in Liverpool training, with a Reds veteran embracing a “strange” situation that now sees “top-class centre-halves all over the place” at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp found himself short in that department during an injury-hit 2020-21 campaign, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all picking up problems that kept them stuck on the sidelines for long periods.

They are now back in the fold, along with £36 million ($50m) summer signing Konate, and Milner is among those feeling encouraged by what he has seen from a squad that is determined to get back in the trophy hunt.

What has been said?

Milner told the Reds’ official website of Konate, who has been snapped up from RB Leipzig: “Very good. He certainly looks like a central defender! 

“He’s obviously very strong, he’s good on the ball, a very good defender positionally. I’ve not seen much of him in training but a couple of things he has done have stood out. 

“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. 

“Nat [Phillips] is obviously here and Davo [Ben Davies], Rhysy [Williams] 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.”

What are Liverpool’s aims for 2021-22?

Sadio Mane Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

The Reds enjoyed domestic, continental and global dominance across two seasons that delivered Premier League, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup honours.

A humbling fall from grace was endured last time out, as Klopp’s men finished empty-handed, but Milner believes positive steps are being taken in the right direction.

The versatile 35-year-old added: “We know what we want to achieve in the season, we know what’s expected, we want to win trophies – that’s obviously always the aim. 

“But I think this period is important. Getting through it with no injuries, making sure people are fit and building that team and that feeling again and that rhythm that obviously you lose when you are in the off-season and obviously with the changes we had all last season with the injuries and ups and downs. 

“That’s all part of it but I’m pretty sure we’ll have learned more last season than we will have done in the two or three seasons before it and that’s a positive.”

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