Growing speculation suggests that Liverpool will make a move for Arsenal left-back Gaël Clichy later this month.
The left-back spot has long been a problematic position for the club, with the immature Emiliano Insua, injury-prone Fabio Aurelio and inadequate Paul Konchesky and Andrea Dossena all failing to make the berth their own since the departure of John Arne Riise in 2008.
Whilst 17-year-old Jack Robinson and an out-of-position Glen Johnson have admirably filled the role in the last six months, manager Kenny Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli will surely be keen to secure the services of a more experienced left-back.
After completing the signing of Jordan Henderson last week, Comolli said: “If a player is English, or British or has played in the Premier League, we’ll look at that over someone abroad”. French international Clichy appears to fit the bill.
Since Ashley Cole’s Arsenal exit in 2006, Clichy has been a mainstay of Arsenal’s backline, appearing in 153 out of a possible 190 Premier League matches. He also has vast experience of European football, having racked up 48 Champions League appearances since moving to the north London club in 2003.
The fact that Clichy’s contract expires next summer means that Liverpool may be able to secure his services for as little as £5m.The athletic Frenchman, known for his stamina and willingness to drive forward, exemplifies the type of left-back Liverpool have lacked in recent times.
Despite his frequent forays into opposition territory, some have questioned his effectiveness in the final third. Clichy has managed just 10 assists over the course of the last five seasons. By comparison, his Arsenal predecessor Cole has racked up the same number of assists over the last two seasons, whilst Everton full-back Leighton Baines has amassed 22 assists over the last two seasons.
Question marks have also arisen over Clichy’s fitness. He missed sizeable chunks of 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2009/10 with various injuries.
Clichy, who was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2008, has been accused of complacency and dipping standards over the last two seasons. A move to Anfield could solve a longstanding problem at Liverpool and revitalise the career of one of the Premier League’s finest full-backs.