Following the injuries to Joel Matip and Fabinho earlier this week, Liverpool now incredibly short of centre-back options in their side, with reports suggesting that Jurgen Klopp is desperate to add to his squad before next Monday’s transfer deadline.
One centre-back to be linked with a move to Anfield is New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long, who could prove to be an ideal short-term option for the Reds, whilst the likes of Matip, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez recover from their injuries.
According to ESPN, the Reds are considering a loan move for Long this month, with the 28-year-old having established himself as one of the best defenders in the MLS in recent seasons.
America’s top-flight is currently suspended until March at the earliest because of the current viral outbreak, which suggests that New York Red Bulls would be willing to send the 6 ft 2 star out on a short-term loan.
In 2018 the centre-back, who former New York Red Bulls boss Chris Armas described as being a “big voice” in the team, would make 38 appearances in the MLS, averaging an excellent 7.08 rating, with three goals and two assists to his name.
2019 saw him average a solid, if slightly less spectacular, 6.87 rating, although he did win an impressive 4.7 duels on average per game, which is more than the likes of Matip and Van Dijk have managed this season.
Considering he would likely join on loan, this could prove to be an excellent piece of business by Liverpool. It could help steady the ship in defence, considering Jordan Henderson and young Nathaniel Phillips were paired together in the second half against Spurs recently, which is certainly not a long-term solution for Klopp.
FSG were seemingly unwilling to back Klopp with a new centre-back earlier in the window due to a lack of funds, so a loan move for the £3.15 million-rated Long would surely be an attractive proposition for them, even if New York Red Bulls did include an obligation to buy, as he surely wouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as some other options.
If we compare Long’s performances from 2019 to Rhys Williams’ performances in the Champions League this season, where we have seen the most of the 19-year-old, then it seems clear that Long would be a better option in Klopp’s side than the academy graduate.
Long averaged 1.1 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 5.3 clearances and 0.8 blocks per game in the MLS in 2019, compared to Williams‘ 0.7 tackles, 0.8 interceptions, 2.2 clearances and zero blocks per game in the Champions League this season.
WhoScored also suggests that the 28-year-old’s strengths include his ability to win aerial duels, and suggest that he doesn’t dive into tackles – something which Williams was certainly guilty of in the recent FA Cup defeat against Manchester United.
From a purely defensive point of view, therefore, it seems as if Long would be an upgrade on Williams in this Liverpool side, so it may be worth bringing him to Anfield.
Whilst Long has no experience outside of the USA, he is a regular in their international side, and was named MLS defender of the year in 2018, so he could be a cheap solution for the Reds this month and would likely prove a good addition if he could continue his form from the MLS in the Premier League.
And, in other news… Edwards can end five-year LFC nightmare by axing £25k-p/w flop this summer