Noel Whelan has advised Nathaniel Phillips to try and fight for his place in the Liverpool starting XI despite the club announcing the signing of Ibrahima Konate.
The Frenchman should make the move to Merseyside at the beginning of July, which will certainly threaten the positions of the likes of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, let alone our remaining backup options.
“It’s hard to go back. After you’ve had that taste of being in the team and you’ve been given that opportunity,” the former Leeds forward told Football Insider.
“He has a lot to contend with at Liverpool. Key players are coming back but that’s where the challenge lies.
“You see what people are made of and what character they have. Does he want to fight for it?
“This is what you need at a big club. There’s always competition. It can sometimes bring the best out of you.
“Or you can take the easy option and move on. Go and play week in, week out somewhere else.
“I’m sure Klopp wants to see fire in his belly. Stay and fight. It could be beneficial for Liverpool.”
Given the 24-year-old’s impressive deputising at the back whilst Virgil van Dijk and Gomez have been sidelined with long-term injuries, one might imagine that the Englishman will be given a chance to hold onto his starting spot if the aforementioned pair are unavailable.
Taking into account recovery, there is a chance that our starting duo may need more time to get back up to speed at the start of the next campaign, which would open the door for Phillips just as much as our first summer signing.
Should the Bolton-born defender carry his form from the 2020/21 season into the next year, there’s nothing to stop him from cementing his place in Klopp’s starting XI, at the very least until Van Dijk is back in the picture.
Certainly, if we’re not looking to pursue an additional centre-back signing beyond the RB Leipzig star, we’d hope that the club could manage to keep hold of one of our strongest performers of the prior term.