Didier Deschamps explains reason for leaving Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate out of France squad
Posted by  badge Boss on May 20
Ibrahima Konate has been enjoying a stellar first season with Liverpool. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

France manager Didier Deschamps has revealed that the experience William Saliba has playing in a three-man defensive system is the reason he has chosen the Olympique de Marseille centre-back over Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate in his latest squad.

Saliba is on loan on the south coast of France from , and has spent the majority of the campaign starting in enigmatic manager Jorge Sampaoli’s preferred 3-3-1-3 shape alongside fellow defenders Luan Peres and Duje Caleta-Car.

Marseille finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season but have improved this time around and are third in the standings with one game remaining, meaning they will qualify for the UEFA Champions League play-off round if they avoid defeat at home to fifth-placed Strasbourg on the final day.

Konate, meanwhile, has enjoyed an impressive debut season since joining Liverpool from RB Leipzig last summer. The 22-year-old has rotated with Joel Matip as ’s partner in the heart of the Reds’ defence, and he has played a pivotal role in helping his new club win both the Carabao Cup and so far this campaign.

Deschamps, who has won the World Cup with France both as a player and manager, says that he is impressed by Konate’s form but opted for Saliba over him on this occasion.

‘Yes, I’m following [Konate], he’s in a team which is competing in the final and for the title in England,’ Deschamps explained. ‘But since he’s been at Liverpool, he’s mostly played in a 4-man defence. And there is competition [in the France team].’

‘I brought William [Saliba] last time and he always plays in a back 3. It’s either one or the other, it’s very competitive, and that’s very good – it allows for the veterans to not get too comfortable.’

France have been utilising a 3-5-2 shape since prior to last summer’s EURO 2020 tournament, when Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was reintegrated into the squad after an absence of over five years.

They will face Denmark, Croatia and Austria in a triple header of UEFA Nations League fixtures in early June. Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez and Jules Kounde are the other central defenders included by Deschamps.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will contest the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris on 28 May.

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