Joel Matip has heaped praise on Liverpool team-mate Ibrahima Konate ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Argentina.
Konate has featured in four of France’s games en route to the final, earning plaudits for his display in the semi-final win against Morocco after replacing former RB Leipzig centre-back partner Dayot Upamecano.
The 23-year-old has started three games in Qatar and is averaging 6.9 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, the most of any player with three or more starts at the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Matip added to the praise Konate has been receiving, with the Frenchman having played a big role in the Reds winning the EFL Cup and FA Cup last season after his move from Leipzig.
6.9 – Ibrahima Konaté is averaging 6.9 tackles + interceptions per 90 minutes at the 2022 World Cup, the most of any player with 3+ starts. Colossus.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
“He’s so young and [he has] so much quality already,” Matip said. “He’s showed that now again with the national team – with an amazing team.
“He’s shown the class he’s got. He’s self-confident, nice, and a really kind person.
“Especially [at] this age, it’s amazing what he can do. He’s strong in challenges, in the air, on the ground, the pace, [he’s] comfortable with the ball – it’s everything you need [as a defender].”
Konate was among the France players to have suffered from illness in recent days, but reports suggest he has recovered in time to be available for the final against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, and Matip said his club team-mates will be rooting for him as the only Liverpool representative involved.
“Of course, he is the only team-mate left, so there is no hard choice for us to make when he is the only one,” he said.
“I hope he comes back with a big smile – this will be a win then!”