One of Liverpool’s standouts of the pre-season last summer was young French centre half Billy Koumetio, but early struggles with fitness left the 18-year-old playing catch up the rest of the season and largely limited his chances to the U23 level.
Now, he’s looking to once again impress, and to use what he learned last summer and last season as a foundation for his next steps as a professional football player.
“Last season when I came here I didn’t know anyone,” Koumetio said. “But I played a couple of games last season—one in the Champions League, in pre-season, and a few [senior] training sessions—and I know them pretty well. So I’ve got a little bit of experience.”
His one senior appearance for the club last season came in their final Champions League group stage game, when took over for Fabinho at half time.
“I was happy to play a few games in pre-season, to be on the bench in some fixtures,” he noted. “Obviously in the Champions League game I was surprised to start the second half but I enjoyed it of course. Everyone was supporting me, all the lads. I loved it.”
Now, with Virgil van Dijk, Joël Matip, and Joe Gomez all returning from their injuries and new signing Ibrahima Konaté settling in—plus Nat Phillips, Ben Davies, and Rhys Williams in the picture—there’s even more competition at the centre half than last year.
For now, though, Koumetio is focused on learning what he can from all of the players ahed of him in the pecking order, with fellow Frenchman Konaté in particular a player who he’s been spending time with this pre-season.
“They are big examples, not only Virgil but also Joel, Joe, Konaté, also Rhys, Nat, and Ben,” Koumetio added. “I’m learning from all of them, they are all different so you can pick some qualities off each of them. They are great lads and also big, big players.
“Me and Konate, we [also] speak a lot. I love him, he’s a great man but also a great player. He’s very good on the ball, attacking and defending. We are talking a lot.”