Liverpool already have 'new Virgil van Dijk' in their ranks after what I've seen - Whelan
Noel Whelan has suggested Liverpool already have Virgil van Dijk’s replacement at Anfield in the shape of Ibrahima Konate.
The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 22-year-old could be the Dutchman’s long-term successor after playing and learning alongside him.
He has had to be patient during his first season on Merseyside, with just eight Premier League starts under his belt.
However, Whelan suggested the France under-21 international could be a mainstay next season with a view to taking Van Dijk’s place in the future.
“Right now, you can see a transition in Liverpool,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.
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“They’re buying these younger players now. You’ve got Konate there who was one of these centre-halves that was admired by many, many clubs.
“Again, he is young, 22, learning his trade. He will be adapting to the Premier League. He’s playing alongside probably one of the best defenders the Premier League has ever seen in van Dijk as well.
“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind he’s only going to get better and learn more traits off Virgil van Dijk. How to be a leader, how to be that talisman at the back.
“I think maybe in one or two more seasons, you will see that happening. Players can’t go on forever. When you get to 31 there’s more risk of injuries, more risk of not being a play a full season.
“There’s more time where he might have to manage his body if you’re in the Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and Premier League.
“I think Jurgen Klopp will probably look to Konate to take over a little bit more leadership from next season. To be that main centre-half next to Virgil van Dijk.
“There’s loads of time in him and he ticks a lot of boxes for me. He’s got the size, the strength and he’s decent on the ball. Also, he’s got that character about him to show that leadership.”
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