2JRPE8B August 25, 2022, Istanbul, Warsaw, Turkey: Billy Koumetio of Austria Wien during the UEFA Europa League Play-Off second leg match between Fenerbahce and Austria Wien at Ulker Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on August 25, 2022. ( Photo by Seskimphoto ) .LIGA EUROPY UEFA PILKA NOZNA SEZON 2022/2023.FOT. SESKIMPHOTO/NEWSPIX.PL.POLAND, TURKEY, GERMANY, AUSTRIA AND UK OUT !!!.---.Newspix.pl *** Local Caption *** www.newspix.pl .mail us: info@newspix.pl.call us: 0048 022 23 22 222.---.Polish Picture Agency by Ringier Axel Springer Poland (Credit Image: © Seskimphoto/Newspix via ZUMA Press)

“Not about how I played” – Liverpool loanee explains struggles this season

Jurgen Klopp was a big admirer of Billy Koumetio when the Frenchman was emerging from the Liverpool academy, but the centre-back has struggled for opportunities on loan with Austria Wien this season.

“Billy the kid,” as the Liverpool boss likes to call him, made his first-team debut and broke the record for the club’s youngest-ever Champions League player against Midtjylland in December 2020.

The following season he started the Carabao Cup tie against Leicester, and in recent years has been a regular in first team training.

Ahead of the current campaign, it was decided Koumetio, now 20, would benefit from regular game time elsewhere, with Austrian Bundesliga side Austria Wien signing the centre-back on a season-long loan deal in June.

However, having made several starts for his new team at the beginning of the campaign, Koumetio lost his place in the side, and is now turning out for Wien’s reserve team in the second division.

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - Monday, August 23, 2021: Liverpool's Billy Koumetio during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Everton FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at Haig Avenue. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But Koumetio believes a big reason for his lack of opportunities is because of manager Manfred Schmid’s decision to change formation.

“The first game was Salzburg. Our captain had to go to the hospital because his girlfriend was having a baby. The next guy came in and then he got injured and then the next guy was me,” Koumetio told the Liverpool Echo.

“I had the opportunity to show what I could do. I found some consistency at the beginning in these games, but then I came off at half-time in one game. We changed formation and we’ve not played this formation again.

“The coach told me it was not about how I played but it was the formation, they wanted to change to go back to two centre-backs and not three. I respect any decision that can help the team be better.

“But for sure, every day I’ve been doing everything I can in training and have been ready for any circumstances if the coach calls upon me to play.”

Koumetio went on to explain how Wien have had a long-standing interest in securing his services.

ROCHDALE, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 31, 2021: Liverpool's Billy Koumetio during the English Football League Trophy match between Rochdale AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Spotland Stadium. Rochdale won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Wien wanted me, even a year ago,” he revealed.

“I also had the opportunity, and the choice, to go on loan but Liverpool and I had discussions and we found that it would be best if I had another full season in the Under-23s, played games and had consistency during the season before I could start men’s football out on loan.”

Klopp believed Austria Wien would be “the perfect” club for Koumetio to continue his development, while the former Lyon youngster also revealed he spoke to Sadio Mane and Divock Origi prior to his loan move.

“The gaffer said to me it would be perfect and the best choice,” Koumetio continued.

“He actually said to me he would prefer this. Obviously I had a choice but at the end of the day, Liverpool can say yes or no, but the gaffer said it would be perfect for me so I took his big, big, big opinion, his big voice and his big vision.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's substitutes L-R Jake Cain, Billy Koumetio and Leighton Clarkson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I spoke to Sadio Mane during the holidays. I told him I would go on loan. He supported me, saying if I go on loan, any league that I went to, he will support me and watch the games. But I didn’t talk to him about exactly the club or league I would go to.

“I spoke to Divock Origi, who I am close to also. Just before I took the flight, I called him. He also called me before he signed his contract with AC Milan. They are very close to me and are giving me very good advice.

“Not just them, also the club and the staff. For my move, it was not difficult. My agent helped me a lot with this and Liverpool did a lot too.”

Last month, This Is Anfield spoke exclusively to Tom Middler (@mid_5) from The Other Bundesliga (@OtherBundesliga) for more details on why Koumetio has struggled to make an impact in Austria this season.