In a wide-ranging interview with Eurosport, France international Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konaté (23) has heaped praises on his club teammate Virgil Van Dijk (31).
The Dutch centre-back is expected to start against Les Bleus when The Netherlands travel to the Stade de France on Friday in a match that kicks off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign. Konaté and Van Dijk struck an effective partnership in Liverpool’s backline last year, but not so much this season with Jürgen Klopp’s Reds leaking too many goals.
Liverpool’s lack of defensive solidity didn’t prevent Konaté speaking highly of the centre-back who finished runners-up in the 2019 Ballon d’Or standings. When quizzed on who’s the best player between his France teammate and close friend Dayot Upemacano (24) and Van Dijk, Konaté laughed it off. “What even is this question? You cannot compare the two. With Upamecano, we belong to the same category, even if he is a very strong competitor. But Van Dijk, he’s on another planet. We are still a long way from achieving what he did. Even if we will get there one day, I have no doubt about it.”
Konaté went on to say what he learned from the former Southampton player, who became the most expensive defender in history following his €80m move to Liverpool in 2017. “Leadership, he has such ease in defending certain players. He has his own technique, it is incredible. His determination, his aggressiveness… He has an aura on the pitch, we always feel it. I’m exceptionally lucky to play with him.”
GFFN | Bastien Cheval