Craig Burley has named two Liverpool players who he believes lack the consistency to start for either Arsenal or Manchester City.
The former Scotland international was speaking on the ESPN FC podcast when he addressed Anfield defensive duo Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip, who he said have had their moments in red but wouldn’t get in other Premier League challengers’ line-ups.
The 52-year-old said: “Konate and Matip, at times – particularly Matip, who has been there longer – have had some really good spells but I think they are now both inconsistent in their decisions.
“If you look at [Virgil] Van Dijk’s partner and you look at the other big challengers, I don’t think Konate or Matip get into any of those other teams at centre-back.
“Maybe you can take Tottenham out of the occasion with [Micky] Van de Ven and [Cristian] Romero. But if you look at Arsenal, you aren’t changing Matip and Konate for Gabriel or [William] Saliba. You’re not changing at Man City.”
We don’t doubt for a minute that both Arsenal (Gabriel and Saliba) and Man City (Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji) can boast excellent centre-back partnerships, but we’d venture to suggest that both clubs would happily take Konate and Matip in their respective squads.
Of those six defenders, Liverpool’s Cameroonian centre-half has won the most aerial duels (16) and has the highest success rate (72.7%) for that particular metric, and has also made more clearances (30) than the other two club’s defensive partnerships combined, as per FBref.
Meanwhile, Konate hasn’t played as often as the other five defenders but is still very composed in playing out from the back, with a passing accuracy of 90.2% for the season, which is superior to the Gunners’ Brazilian ace.
You can be sure that Jurgen Klopp is very glad to have both of them in his squad at Liverpool, and the 24-year-old Frenchman has arguably yet to hit his peak.