“The left-back has to come out of the team, this is not a one-off today in terms of the goal.”
Jamie Carragher’s verdict after the League Cup Final loss on Sunday was bang on… Alberto Moreno causes more problems than he creates solutions. The Spaniard is now in his second season at Anfield, and although there have been green shoots of promise, he’s just not up to the job defensively.
The ex-Sevilla star’s positioning is questionable, his tracking back sub-standard and his positioning often woeful. Sure, he offers plenty going the other way, but when it really matters Moreno has often let his side down.
Surely Jurgen Klopp will now be thinking long and hard about when to do at left-back in the long-term, with the German, although facing many tasks this summer, likely to be aware that he needs greater balance on that flank. Luckily for him he has time to assess all the options available, and there are plenty out there should Moreno’s future be on the bench or away from Anfield altogether.
With this in mind, here are FIVE left-back options for Liverpool…
While Moreno offers attacking intent at the expense of defensive solidity, Flanagan is further towards the other end of the scale. Although right-footed, the Liverpool-born defender has spent the bulk of his Reds career on the opposite flank and was one of the standout performers as the club came so close to lifting the Premier League title in 2013/14.
An injury at the very end of that campaign left him on the sidelines for 18 months, but the 23-year-old is now edging back towards full fitness, and with reports claiming that he’s set to be offered a new contract – his current deal expires this summer – he appears to be a player in Klopp’s plans.
‘Flani Alves’ or the ‘Scouse Cafu’ as he’s affectionately known, is an idol in the Anfield stands due to his Merseyside roots and offers the sort of solidity that the would, perhaps, have been enough to keep out that Fernandinho goal in the League Cup Final when Moreno’s positioning was questionable.
Arguably the best left-back in Europe not playing for an ‘elite club’, Rodriguez is Moreno-like in his attacking prowess, but far more solid going the other way than his Spanish counterpart.
The Switzerland international has carved out a role for himself in an impressive Wolfsburg team, helping the Bundesliga side into the Champions League this season, while earning widespread praise.
Further to his abilities at full-back, the 23-year-old is also a set-piece expert, which could be of benefit to Liverpool with the exits of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard having left the club with very few players able to supply decent delivery from wide or test opposing goalkeepers.
Klopp’s German, and German football is enjoying a golden spell, so it makes sense that links have sprung up. One name to have been mentioned is Hector, who has forced his way into the world champions’ ranks and won 10 caps while featuring for unfashionable Bundesliga midtable-dwellers, Koln.
At 25, the left-sided full-back is in his very peak and has exhibited the sort of mix between defensive and attacking qualities often sought in players of his position, albeit he’s relatively untested at the highest level.
Klopp is sure to know all about him from his time in Germany, which could make for a smooth transition.
Although another left-back from Spain, Gaya is a different proposition than Moreno.
The Valencia man is a more traditional full-back in that his primary function is keeping things tight in his own third, but that does not been he’s a blunt tool, with the 20-year-old having supplied six assists last term and weighed in with 0.7 key passes-per-game in La Liga action this term – a respectable return in a struggling Los Che team.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that should Gaya become available it’s likely Spain’s elite two will come calling, and it’s hard for Liverpool to compete with them financially and in terms of appeal.
It’s strange to think that just a few months ago Smith was in a state of limbo at Liverpool. After his contract expired last summer the Australian was kept on on a month-to-month basis before eventually opting to take the offer on the table from the Reds.
His route into the first XI under Brendan Rodgers appeared bleak before this, but Klopp seems to have taken warmly to the Oceanic star, who has been handed game time in cup action and responded with some encouraging performances.
In truth, matches against the likes of Exeter have done little to prove his credentials defensively, but in an attacking sense the 21-year-old has shown that he has plenty of pace and the sort of industrious nature that allows him to get up and down the flank for a full 90 minutes.
He’s a little raw, but Klopp has been known to polish some rough diamonds in the past.