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Liverpool star Ibrahima Konate delivers a ‘big hit’ for Virgil van Dijk as Naby Keita gets important minutes



In the battle for Liverpool’s centre-backs, it was Ibrahima Konate’s France who inflicted a sensational 4-0 defeat on Virgil van Dijk’s Netherlands in another night of international action.

There were eight Liverpool players on the field for their country on Friday, with six following a winning streak and just one insipid defeat.

That lone figure was Van Dijk, who captained his side at the Stade de France against Konate’s France in their first Euro 2024 qualifier – both played the full 90 minutes.

After the match, Van Dijk said: “I don’t know if this is the worst international match I’ve had. It’s certainly a great success,” with his team dropping four unanswered goals. Within 21 minutes, France were 3–0 up thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano and Kylian Mbappe, with the fourth and final goal added by Mbappé in the 88th minute.

The Netherlands, who had to give up several players, including Cody Gakpo, due to illness, was cut easily and “were too weak in duels”, in Van Dijk’s words.

In Africa, there were 2-0 victories for both Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita respectively, leaving both Egypt and Guinea six points in Group D after three Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

It was another pivotal day for Salah, who scored his country’s 50th goal and saw him join an exclusive seven-man roster that included Didier Drogba.

Keita, meanwhile, made his first appearance since Liverpool’s draw at Crystal Palace, playing 86 minutes for Guinea against Ethiopia. Likewise, there were precious minutes for Kostas Tsimikas as Greece won 3-0 against Gibraltar, with the left-back being taken off after 85 minutes.

Liverpool youngsters Calum Scanlon and Bobby Clark both played 61 minutes for the England U18s in a 2-1 comeback against Croatia, while Mateusz Musialowski came on as a substitute for the Polish U19s in a draw.

A host of Reds are expected to be in action on Saturday, including Andy Robertson, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones and, as always, hope remains that they will all return fit and healthy.


How the 13 players who left Liverpool last summer are performing in their new teams 


Thirteen players left Liverpool for new pastures in the summer and their moves have brought them mixed success.

Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were among those who found new clubs for the 2022-23 season after a 63-game marathon with the Reds.

There were also a number of youngsters whose deals weren’t renewed by Liverpool, each looking for new teams both inside and outside the English football pyramid by then.

Here we take a look at how everyone is doing in their new home and provide ratings for their seasons out of ten so far.

Sadio Mane – Bayern Munich

Games played: 28
Goals: 11
Assistance: 5

Mane was by far the biggest dismissal of the summer after moving to Bayern Munich for £35.1m. The Senegalese striker had enjoyed a twilight spell in the center of Liverpool’s attack in a season which saw 23 goals, but the 30-year-old has not enjoyed the same form in the Bundesliga.

He has scored 11 goals in all competitions so far and was recently sent off at half-time in a 2-1 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen.
A fibula injury kept Mane out of action for three months, including the 2022 World Cup, and his last league goal came in October.

Rating: 5

Divock Origi – AC Milan

Games played: 25
Objectives: 2
Assistance: 1

Things have certainly not gone smoothly for Origi since he arrived in Italy, with injuries and front-row competition involving him mainly coming from the bench, as he did at Liverpool.

The Belgian has just scored twice in all competitions for the Rossoneri, and recent reports in Football Italia have suggested the club may be ready to let the striker go this summer. He left Merseyside with the best wishes of the fans and on good terms with the club, so it’s a shame the move hasn’t ignited his career as he had hoped.

Rating: 4

Neco Williams – Nottingham Forest

Games played: 30
Goals: 0
Models: 1
Goal conceded: 8

Williams was one of the first names on the squad’s roster in the early months of Forest’s campaign.

The defender’s minutes have fallen slightly since the start of the year, but he has still featured in all but two of his side’s Premier League games in 2022/23 as they look to provide top-flight safety.

Williams’ only assist for the club was a 4-1 League Cup win over Blackburn in a run that saw Forest reach their first semi-final since 1992.

Rating: 7

Takumi Minamino – Monaco

Games played: 21
Goals: 1
Models: 4

Minamino’s lack of commitment to Liverpool resulted in a £15m switch to League One, but goalscoring proved difficult for the striker. The 28-year-old has scored just once for Monaco in 21 appearances for the club and, like Origi, most of his minutes have come from the bench.

Minamino’s only goal came in a 3-0 win at Stade Reims, but the Japanese forward had more creative fun, with four assists.

Ratung: 5

Ben Davies – Rangers

Games played: 32
Goals: 0
Assistance: 1
Clean sheets: 13

After a bizarre spell on Merseyside that saw no appearances for the Reds, Ben Davies actually made his first competitive appearance at Anfield for Rangers in the Champions League group stage.

After picking up injury early in his Glasgow spell, the defender has since established himself as a mainstay in Rangers’ backline, missing just one game in the Scottish Premiership since September.

The 27-year-old will be hoping his side can make an unlikely late charge for the title, with Celtic currently leading by nine points with so many games left.

Rating: 7

Loris Karius – Newcastle

Games played: 1
Goal conceded: 0

Remarkable circumstances saw Newcastle’s third-choice goalkeeper play his only game for the Magpies in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley – 728 days after his last competitive game.

His recent Champions League mistakes at Kyiv in 2018 led to a series of unsuccessful loan spells before eventually earning a permanent move to the North East, where playing time was far from expected.

The German might have hoped to do better for Man United’s runners-up finish at Wembley, but given his lack of meaningful minutes in recent years, the 29-year-old is far from embarrassed.

Rating: 6

Ben Woodburn-Preston North End

Games played: 36
Goals: 2
Models: 3

Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer hasn’t had quite the impact he hoped to have at Liverpool and as was the theme with our recently departed strikers, goals haven’t been scored this season.

The 23-year-old has made 36 appearances for Preston North End this season but the vast majority of them have come from the touchline. Woodburn was on target as his side traveled to Premier League Wolves in the Carabao Cup second round, with the game eventually ending in a 2-1 loss.

Rating: 6

Sheyi Ojo-Cardiff

Games played: 35
Goals: 2
Models: 0

Ojo is another player who received a series of loan moves before eventually leaving the Reds and ending up with Championship side Cardiff.
The 25-year-old was tried out in various positions but couldn’t secure a permanent place in the squad.

Like Woodburn, one of his goals came against Premier League opponents when Leeds were forced from behind to force a replay in the FA Cup third round.
Rating: 5

Other young people

?? Hear what Jake Cain had to say ahead of Saturday’s trip to Spotland while speaking to the City media team today. #STFC???
— Swindon Town FC (@Official_STFC) March 16, 2023

Five other players have come through the exit door after their contracts expired last summer.

Elijah Dixon-Bonner was a free agent until mid-October when QPR secured the youngster’s services, but his first appearance didn’t come until March 18 in a 1-0 home loss to Birmingham.

Former Liverpool Under-21 skipper Tom Clayton joined League Two Swindon alongside Jake Cain, with the pair recording 25 and nine appearances respectively.

Luis Longstaff has played 29 games for Cove Rangers while Sean Wilson is currently trying to break into the Airbus UK side of the Welsh Premier League.