Having conceded the most goals of any side in the Premier League’s top nine this season – a whopping 37 from just 28 games – it is clear where Liverpool’s priorities will lie during the summer transfer window.
Indeed, the Reds have already sourced one defensive addition ahead of next season, acquiring Cameroon international Joel Matip from FC Schalke on a free transfer – as confirmed by BBC Sport last month. But still lacking a dependable No.1, leadership at centre-half and top-draw quality in the full-back positions, Liverpool’s rebuild at the back is by no means completed just yet.
So with the coming transfer window by no means as far away as it may seem, Football Fancast have been running the rule over FIVE potential additions we believe the Merseysiders should target during the summer in a bid to improve their ever-error-prone backline.
Would these FIVE signings see Liverpool improve defensively? Let us know by commenting below!
I’m a firm believer that defensive confidence all stems from the goalkeeper, which is why Liverpool’s backline has been plagued by disorganised uncertainty – especially at set pieces – throughout Simon Migonlet’s three campaigns as their No.1.
So before the Reds even consider defensive recruits for the coming transfer window, it’s imperative they sign a goalkeeper who can breed assured calmness and composure throughout their back four – and Chelsea understudy Asmir Begovic fits the bill.
Indeed, the Bosnian international is well-proven in the Premier League, serving as Stoke City’s No.1 for five straight seasons – during which he won the Players’ Player of the Year Award, Supporters’ Club Player of the Year award and Player of the Year award at the Britannia – before moving to Stamford Bridge last summer.
He demonstrated his capacity to perform at a higher level during Thibaut Courtois’ injury bout earlier this season, with a number of extraordinary shot-stopping displays to stop things getting embarrassing for the fallen Premier League champions, and measuring in at 6 foot 6 offers the aerial dominance that Mignolet’s always lacked.
Demoted instantaneously upon Courtois’ return to fitness, I’m sure the 28-year-old would be prepared to move on this summer after proving himself more than capable of donning the No.1 jersey at a top club. But would the west Londoners sell to a divisional rival? That remains to be seen.
To say Nathaniel Clyne has disappointed this season would be a bit of an overstatement. The right-back has gone about his business quietly during his debut campaign at Anfield but considering the abrupt change in management in October and Liverpool’s defensive problems all round, that is certainly understandable.
Nonetheless, Serge Aurier represents a chance to upgrade at No.2 with a defender indisputably capable of performing at Champions League level, who will almost certainly be floated on the transfer market this summer after infamously making derogatory remarks about his manager, Laurent Blanc, and a number of his PSG team-mates on camera.
Aurier-gate aside, the Ivory Coast international is a real talent, laden with the level of physicality that often sees foreign imports thrive in the Premier League. Before the scandal, he was averaging 3.9 tackles, 3.6 interceptions, 3.2 clearances and 1.2 chances per match in Ligue 1, whilst his Champions League showings earned similarly rave reviews.
A Parc de Princes departure now seems inevitable and Liverpool would be wise to capitalise on the situation – even if signing a new right-back isn’t seen as a priority come the summer transfer window. That being said, a number of Europe’s top clubs will be chasing the 23-year-old this summer.
Liverpool have been linked with a number of centre-backs in recent months – and have even signed one already in the aforementioned Joel Matip – but when considering options for the shaky, breaky heart of their defence, it’s still difficult to look past Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic.
If Jurgen Klopp is seeking additions who can help implement his philosophy on Merseyside, then he’ll struggle to find one better than the Serbian international, who not only won two Bundesliga titles under the German gaffer at Dortmund but arrived at Westfalenstadion with him from Mainz back in 2008.
The 27-year-old has spent much of his career overshadowed by World-Cup-winning centre-back partner Mats Hummels, but he’s an incredibly talented defender in his own right and particularly when it comes to matters on the ground, famed for his quick turn of pace, reading of the game and lust for last-ditch tackles.
Klopp’s presence at Anfield is already a noteworthy pull factor but in addition, a lengthy injury layoff has seen Subotic plummet down the pecking order under Thomas Tuchel, with Greek international Sokratis excelling in his absence. With two years remaining on his contract come the summer transfer window, a half-decent bid could convince the Black-Yellows to sell.
Jonas Hector’s impressive rise with FC Koln has not gone unnoticed, now Joachim Lowe’s preferred choice of No.3 within the Germany fold and a mooted transfer target for a number of the Premier League’s top clubs – including Liverpool.
Indeed, Jurgen Klopp likes his full-backs to push forward and join the attack and the Germany international certainly meets that remit, averaging the fourth-most created chances per match, 2.1, of any left-back involved in Europe’s five leading top flights this season alongside 1.1 accurate crosses and 1.1 successful dribbles.
Of course, Alberto Moreno is a similar kind of offensive influence, but the Spaniard has struggled to fulfil his defensive duties this season and overall, the pressure involved in playing consistently for the Merseysiders seems a little beyond him at this moment in time.
No doubt, however, the 25-year-old Koln ace is solid defensively too, averaging 1.8 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per match this term to help his side record the second-best goals conceded column in the Bundesliga’s bottom half.
With his contract verging upon that all-important two-year mark, a strong bid from Liverpool will likely oblige Koln to sell during the summer transfer window.
As age and injuries continue to catch up with Liverpool playbreaker Lucas Leiva, Liverpool need to source a new midfield enforcer this summer and since signing for Sevilla at the start of last season, Grzegorz Krychowiak has rapidly emerged as one of the best in the business.
Indeed, the Poland international was instrumental as Unai Emery’s side claimed a second consecutive Europa League title – and fifth place finish in La Liga – last term and has continued to impress this season, averaging a division-best 4.8 interceptions per match alongside 2.4 tackles and 3.2 successful aerial duels.
A real warrior who often operates almost as a third centre-back, providing power, control and aerial dominance just in front of the back four, Liverpool’s defence would benefit immeasurably from the protection the 26-year-old provides.
The good news is that Krychowiak’s contract includes a £32million release clause, which is well within Liverpool’s financial reach. The bad news, however, is that he seems unlikely to leave Sevilla without the assurance of Champions League football, especially with Unai Emery still at the club.