Dylan Gerstley assesses Liverpool’s defence and determines who would be perfect to help shore up a very leaky back four.
Liverpool and Klopp are now in panic mode after both Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez have gone down with injury layoffs that are expected to be substantial and now leaves the center of defense looking thin.
The signing of Jöel Matip on a free transfer was shrewd in a business sense. The club would not have to splash an absurd amount of cash like Manchester United did when they signed Eric Bailly for £30 million. Though inflated prices are a sign of the times, Matip represents a great bargain due to his experience at Schalke and his relatively young age.
The 24 year old center defender made 194 appearance for the Bundesliga outfit and was considered by many to be one of the club’s very own. Matip is 6 foot 5 inches but his agility and ball control bely his size. A true ball playing center back is highly valuable in the incredibly technical modern game and now Liverpool have one.
As evidenced by his size, Matip is no slouch. He is strong in the air and his height alone makes him difficult to play against for opposition attackers. With so much experience at a high level and a polished technical game to go along with his physicality, Liverpool and their fans have one of the game’s brightest central defenders.
Last season saw Dejan Lovren regain some confidence and make himself a legend among fans after his tie-winning header against Dortmund in the Europa League. Lovren, a former Southampton player, was highly rated when Brendan Rodgers signed him but he failed to sparkle as so many did under the Northern Irishman.
Lovren was never successful in convincing fans of his ability under Rodgers but his courage was still there to see. The Croatian centre-half missed a penalty that would end Liverpool’s Europa League hopes two seasons ago but the fact that he stepped up was evidence of his bravery. He always fought on and battled through. The defender always tried his hardest to make something happen for Liverpool but it rarely came off.
Last season was a different story and even now in preseason Liverpool fans can witness the new Dejan. He is confident, capable, assured, and best of all, still gives his all to make something happen. Just look at his ball to play Mane in against Tranmere. The new midfielder failed to convert but it was still a lovely pass from Lovren.
Sakho hardly needs an introduction to Liverpool fans. The former Paris Saint-Germain man has made the club his own and his passion for the red shirt is seen on and off the pitch. Liverpool fans were rightly worried to lose his leadership and ability to a drug suspension but now that UEFA have cleared the French defender, he has gone and suffered an injury setback.
Gomez was signed under Rodgers but is a highly rated prospect and could have provided much needed depth for Klopp’s side. With both Gomez and Sakho gone, as well as the departure of Martin Skrtel, Liverpool need another center back option to fill in and compete with Matip and Lovren.
Keeping Klopp and the club’s shrewd business model in mind, one central defender that should be on the radar is recently out of contract, Martin Caceres. The Uruguayan has played at Juventus for the last five seasons and was a Serie A winner in all of them.
Caceres was known for his aggression and grit. The Uruguayan played a similar way to Luis Suarez in his time in Turin, using anything possible to get the job done. His hard nosed attitude made him a favorite among his coaches but he did not quite convince the fans, despite his excellent defensive record.
The Serie A stalwart was seen as an injury prone back up that never amounted to anything special. This opinion did not shine though in his performances as he was consistently one of the most highly polished defenders in every game. The Uruguayan was clearly overshadowed by the brilliance of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Andrea Barzagli.
Liverpool need a central defender and the out of contract Caceres represents an extremely affordable option, especially as he is incredibly experienced and plays with heart. He seems to tick all the boxes for a Klopp transfer.
The only reason the signing would be a gamble is because of his injury record. He has never appeared near consistently enough in the black and white stripes in his time at Juventus. All that aside, Liverpool’s defense should be restored by October when Sakho has recovered and trained to peak fitness. Caceres only needs to be fit about half the year to do his job as short term cover.
Liverpool have found themselves a true baller on their hands in Matip but the thinning defensive ranks are worrying. Caceres has played at a high level for years and could represent an affordable short term replacement. His injury history is rough but a player does not play for clubs like Barcelona and Juventus without earning it through fantastic play. It is clear the Uruguayan has the ability and judging from his performances he has the mentality Klopp craves as well. Liverpool and Klopp could have the defense sorted by signing Martin Caceres.