The left-back berth has long since been a problematic position for Liverpool. Since the decline and exit of former Anfield favourite John Arne Riise, the position has been a troubled vacancy for the Merseyside club, with Italian misfit Andrea Dossena, young Argentine Emiliano Insua and the perennially-crocked Fabio Aurelio all equally unable to assuredly stake their claim to the berth. The recent departures of both Aurelio and Dossena have left the inexperienced Insua as the only left-back within Liverpool’s first-team squad. No doubt perturbed by Insua’s unconvincing displays last season, Roy Hodgson has set his sights on acquiring a more experienced player to fill the role, with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that Swiss international Reto Ziegler is a target for the 62-year-old. Is Ziegler the man to solve the left-back problem at Liverpool?
Also a target for Russian outfit Zenit St Petersburg, 24-year-old Sampdoria man Reto Ziegler will be familiar to more astute fans of the Premier League. Ziegler joined Tottenham Hotspur as an 18-year-old in 2004, and appeared 24 times for the London side before departing the club in 2007. The Swiss international showed glimpses of his potential at White Hart Lane, impressing Spurs fans with his attacking intent and passing ability. Despite being named JSM Young Player of the Year after his first season at the club, Ziegler was subsequently loaned out to Hamburg, Wigan Athletic and Sampdoria in successive seasons. A loan move to Sampdoria was made permanent in the summer of 2007.
Since moving to Italy, Ziegler has consistently managed to build upon his early potential, establishing himself as one of the finest full-backs in Serie A. Despite switching from left-wing to left-back, Ziegler has managed to retain the attacking element of his game. The attacking full-back has become a particularly important component of top-level football these days; the likes of Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra at Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Glen Johnson, highlight this. The acquisition of Ziegler would allow Liverpool to compete with two foraging full-backs.
Given his departure from White Hart Lane earlier on his career, Ziegler has somewhat unfairly been branded as a Premier League ‘flop’. However, what one must remember is that Ziegler’s initial stint in England was whilst he was still a young, inexperienced individual. Since departing for Sampdoria, Ziegler has developed into a quality left-back, establishing himself as a fixture in the Genoa-based side’s starting XI. Ziegler was a virtual ever-present for the Blucerchiati last season, racking up a respectable two goals and five assists in 37 outings. The 24-year-old has also developed a reputation as a set-piece specialist, and his cultured left foot would help to provide the Anfield side with some balance.
Whilst Ziegler may not be the glamorous name that Reds fans seek, he has proven over the course of the last two seasons that he is a solid and capable left-back. With Hodgson eager to alleviate the pressure resting upon Emiliano Insua’s young shoulders, the rumoured signing of Ziegler may come as a welcome relief for several Kopites. The Swiss international, who was an ever-present for his side at this summer’s World Cup, has matured greatly since his time with Spurs, and may be ready for a second bite of the Premier League cherry this summer.
Follow all things Liverpool at www.twitter.com/Liverpool_FFC
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/zarifrasul