Damon Savenelli analyses Liverpool’s left back dilemma.
At the end of last season it was made apparent that one of Liverpool’s top priorities in the summer transfer window would be to find a new left back. Liverpool started the season with four players capable of filling that position; Alberto Moreno, Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez, and Brad Smith were all viable choices. One month later and Joe Gomez has re-injured himself, Brad Smith has completed a £6 million move to Bournemouth, and with Jon Flanagan on the verge of a loan move to Burnley, Jürgen Klopp now faces a serious dilemma.
The only true left back still available in Liverpool’s squad is Alberto Moreno. When Moreno made the £12 million pound move from Sevilla back in August of 2014, many fans saw him as a reliable left back with loads of potential. Now 24, Moreno has yet to show that potential. He had a very shaky 2015/16 campaign, which left many Liverpool fans calling for the club to seek out a new left back.
The Spaniard has been under an immense amount of scrutiny after last season’s performance. Moreno, blessed with pace and decent technical ability, is not as good as a defender as some would hope. Often times caught out of position, the Spaniard oftentimes acts as a winger rather than a fullback.
This was most notable in the Europa League final this past season. Moreno was often never in the right position which forced him to resort to reckless tackles, and gave the Sevilla attackers way too much space. Many fans blame the 3-1 loss solely on Moreno’s poor defensive performance.
Although Moreno is not the most talented defender, he does fit into Klopp’s style quite well. This left many fans to think that Klopp would continue to teach and work with Moreno, while also looking for a more defence minded fullback once the transfer window opened.
The past month has seen many names linked with Liverpool. Jonas Hector, Jordan Amavi, Ben Chilwell, and Jetro Willems have all been strongly linked. Other than Ben Chilwell, Klopp has yet to strongly pursue a fullback.
The Red’s 2-0 win over AC Milan saw Klopp name James Milner as the starting left back. The Englishman is primarily deployed as a midfielder but is also used as a utility player when needed. Moreno later came on as a sub in the second half, but this clearly showed that Klopp was experimenting with his squad, trying out different players in different positions.
This left many Liverpool supporters thinking whether or not Klopp would purchase a left back by the end of the transfer window. If that were the case, Klopp would be left with Moreno as the only true left back in his squad. Both James Milner as well as newcomer Ragnar Klavan can be deployed as emergency fullbacks, while Jon Flanagan could be recalled from his loan if it was necessary.
With recent reports from Tribal Football as well as Echo linking Jonas Hector to Liverpool once more, Klopp’s pursuit of a reliable left back might not be over. Koln have reportedly told Liverpool that they must pay £22.5 million in order to retain Hector’s services. Fans are hoping that these rumors are true, but for now it seems as though Klopp will have to settle for Alberto Moreno as his first team left back.