Liverpool told which player they must keep fit for box formation to work

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Liverpool have been advised that much of their struggles in pre-season can’t be totally fixed with the signing of a new centre-half this summer.

The Merseysiders secured a 3-1 victory in their final pre-season game against Darmstadt but were worryingly easy to cut through in the middle of the park and found themselves undone by a threatening diagonal ball for the German outfit’s sole effort on the night.

Neil Jones pointed to the importance of Ibrahima Konate remaining fit as the club’s only option in the right-sided centre-back position capable of covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold in his new hybrid role.

“I do also think that the ‘issues’ we have seen in pre-season would not necessarily be solved by simply signing a centre-back,” the reporter told CaughtOffside.

“Much of it stems from a lack of compactness and a lack of pressure on the ball higher up the pitch, which then leaves the last line exposed when opponents play around the press.

“And with Trent Alexander-Arnold spending as much time in midfield as he does at right-back, that means a lot of work for the right-sided centre-back. Konate will be earning overtime this season, he needs to stay fit!”

Given that the Frenchman was available for less than half of our league fixtures in 2022/23 – that has to be a serious concern for decision-makers at Anfield ahead of the new campaign.

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With midfield being the bigger priority of the two, however, we’ll be left with something of a nervous wait that will likely drag on into the season given the length of time it’s taking to negotiate with Southampton over Romeo Lavia.

Perhaps the biggest debate left for us to solve beyond the midfield conundrum is whether it remains the best course of action to pursue a left-footed centre-half when the new box formation is heavily dependent on a capable right-sided centre-back performing the job of two defenders.

Finding a long-term successor to Virgil van Dijk (and securing appropriate cover in the immediate near future) is no doubt critical, though the demands of the upcoming campaign perhaps should nudge Liverpool in the direction of a the former over the latter.

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