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Football News: Liverpool - The need for a left sided centre back

Liverpool - The need for a left sided centre back
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It is abundantly clear that one of the most glaring weaknesses in the Liverpool squad is at the heart of the defence. Whilst you cannot fault any of the current options for effort, Liverpool are just struggling to keep the ball out the net far too often.

So we've all heard about the likes of Van Dijk, De Vrij and Jonathon Tah. The £120m trio who have all signed for Liverpool at least three times this month if you believe the papers! What I do not understand though is why Liverpool are looking at right sided centre backs. Matip, Lovren, Lucas and Gomez all look more comfortable at right centre back, leaving only Klavan as the natural left sided centre back. As he was clearly only ever meant to be a back up, I would like to propose a few alternative left sided centre backs all of whom Liverpool have the pulling power and financial muscle to sign. I must point out though that I have no inside knowledge and this is 100% my opinion.

The first on my list is a player I first brought up as a player to watch last summer after he led Middlesbrough to promotion. It is of course, Ben Gibson. Gibson is a 24 year old English centre back who like everyone in this list, prefers to play on the left side of defence. His contract runs until 2021 and his maiden campaign in the English top flight has catapulted him into the spotlight with interest reported from the likes of Chelsea and more recently Liverpool. Gibson is a very reliable player who rarely misses a game, and excels in a couple of areas Liverpool's defence is currently lacking; leadership and reading the game. He is also a very good tackler but the main thing he would bring to Liverpool's defence is a bit of organisation. That trait is one which has become increasingly underappreciated in the game over the last few years, but becomes prominent when the likes of Kompany return to action and make Otamendi look like he can defend. Gibson would be a very good partner for Matip or Lovren. However he is not particularly dominant in the air and you could very easily argue that is a must for Liverpool seeing as the team is constantly found lacking when defending set pieces. Not to mention that the gegenpress forces opposition teams to play it long which in turn forces Liverpool's centre backs into a lot of aerial duels. At 6ft1 he has no real excuse for being so average in the air either. Gibson though, knows the league now and would settle in fairly quickly. My rating in terms if fit for Liverpool is a 4/ 5.

My second suggestion is a player who many may not have heard of. 6ft3 versatile Croatian, Antonio Milic. He can play at left centre back or left back (calm down) and helped guide KV Oostende to a very successful campaign. At just 23 he has time on his side to improve further and that would be required to step up to such a stronger league. Milic has just 1 year left on his contract at the time this article was written, so could be available at a bargain price. His main strengths are his physicality and aerial power, as well as his aggressive tackling. Like everyone though, he has a weakness. Pace. If you think Lovren is slow, you should see this guy. His sheer size and strength makes him hard to go past, but once you manage it, he won't catch you. Could Liverpool sustain such a high press with Milic at the back? Well Klopp thinks Klavan is okay there, so why not Milic who will at least help Liverpool rectify that horrible set piece record! My rating for Liverpool would be a 3/ 5.

This next player is probably the best in the list. John Brooks of Hertha Berlin. The American centre back is a force of nature. 6ft4, agile, great in the air, powerful on and off the ball, and no slouch in a foot race. He reads the game well enough to make up for his slight lack of aggression in the tackle. Contracted until 2019, he should be attainable. So why is he at Hertha Berlin still you say? Well that would be because of his injury record! At 24 he should be the pinnacle of fitness, yet he regularly misses half the season through injury. It is criminal that players like Brooks struggle so much with injuries because they are his so good to watch. His pace and reading of the game, coupled with his aerial strength make him the absolute ideal player for Liverpool's high line and set piece frailties. However in a defence already lacking a real solid, reliable, 40 game a season defender, is he the right fit? For that reason i can only give him a 4.5/ 5.

Moving on from my American dream, and we have Dutch Lazio centre back (no not that one) Wesley Hoedt. Hoedt who I wouldn't dare attempt to pronounce even if i took 10 years of Dutch lessons, is a bit of an outsider in my list but hear me out because he only has 2 years left on his contract, and the media may have the wrong Lazio based Dutchman! At 23 he is the joint youngest in my list, but what he absolutely excels in is playing out from the back. How many times have we seen Liverpool struggling to get out or panicking and gifting possession to opposition players in their own third? Too many. Hoedt would help to balance the play out from the back so Matip isn't constantly getting the ball, which usually leads to Clyne getting it (I rolled my eyes even as I wrote that) . Hoedt is physically strong and whilst you wouldn't call it a feature to his game, he is good in the air. He also tackles well and reads the game even better. He is sadly another player who lacks a bit in pace though and also seems too much of a passenger. Now I don't know him so I could be wrong, but he seems very quiet. He could be a master stroke signing, or the pace in England could catch him out. I'd give him a 3.5/ 5.

The last player I want to discuss is another relatively unknown quantity. Omar Colley is a monster from Gambia who you cross at your own peril. We are talking this guy will take on Sakho and Bailly outside a night club and take both their dates home with him. The 24 year old beast only has 2 years left on his contract at Genk, probably because the Sporting Director is scared a new offer might be too low and offend him. Colley is a defender strikers fear. He has the pace and power to go toe to toe with anyone, excels in aerial duels, and if he goes in for a tackle he's either taking the ball or the player. Nobody goes past him easily. He is a proper defender in every sense who had a massive impact on Genk's Europa League run this season. However that strength is also his weakness. He is so awkward on the ball at times and the thought of Colley passing it back to Mignolet for him to ping it out to Clyne is grim. However some might argue that a defenders job is to defend and Colley can, and loves to do that. I would give him a 4/ 5.

I hope you enjoyed the read and thank you for taking the time out of your day to do so. Let me know your thoughts.

Written by Tris Burke June 15 2017 21:57:43