Liverpool star praises Konate signing despite likely drop down the pecking order at Anfield
Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips has had some positive words to say about the club's decision to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate even though it will likely mean fewer playing minutes for himself next season.
In planning for the 2021/22 Premier League season, Liverpool have already completed their first signing of the summer with the purchase of Konate for £36 million, his release clause.
Jurgen Klopp's side were ravaged by injuries this past campaign, particularly in defence, losing central defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for the majority of the season.
That led to youngsters Phillips and Rhys Williams being promoted to the first team to do a job, with the former in particular earning good reviews for coming in during a difficult situation.
With Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip all returning next season, and with Konate already signed, Phillips is arguably now fifth choice centre-back at the club, but he has still praised the acquisition of the RB Leipzig defender and wants to fight for his place.
“It’s no surprise [to see Konate signed]. Liverpool is a huge club and they are always going to have huge competition for places. You always have to compete for your place in the team,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“Even though there is a lot of competition, I see it as another person to try and learn from. A new person’s game I get to see up close, see how they play and see if I can take anything from that.
“You want to be playing as much as possible but you have to earn it. There are occasions when you get on there by default because of injuries, but they don’t come along very often.
“If you want to play as often as possible, you need to embrace that fight and play to a high enough standard to hold off such competition.”
Phillips' future at Liverpool
Phillips admits he has not spoken to Klopp about his future yet, and reckons the club were perhaps surprised at the level of performances he put in when called upon which has given him hope of staying at Anfield despite previous rumours of a transfer away.
“I think the situation is, initially they didn’t anticipate me having the season and putting in the performances that I did do," he explained.
“Maybe where they might have thought I was just going to do a job and then they would be able to sell me and I would move on, now they’re having second thoughts. I’m not sure.
“I still need to have the conversations with them and just see if there is a role for me there and what role they would want me to play.
“It would depend on if they saw a role for me at Liverpool and then what role that would be. I would have to decide what is best for myself off the back of that.
“I have loved all of my time at Liverpool up until this moment, to have been taken in by the fans so much this year and have loved having the opportunity to play for the club.
“I have loved every minute of it and would love to carry on playing for the club. But I’ve also got to take into consideration what is best for my career, and that will depend on what role Liverpool see they do or don’t have for me and I’ll have to go from there.”
As well as signing Konate, Liverpool will be in the market for another central midfielder this summer after Georginio Wijnaldum left on a free transfer.