Jonathan Davies explains how Ragnar Klavan has surprised many people and become an important player for Liverpool this season.
Ragnar Klavan, who arrived from Augsburg in the summer transfer window, has been one of the surprise packages for the Reds this season.
Who would have thought?
In the summer, Klopp signed this generally unknown Estonian centre back from German club Augsburg. Not many people thought he would even be the third choice centre back let alone starting in big games against Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton, keeping two clean sheets in the process. Furthermore, we have seen the defender that Liverpool have needed in recent years, one who is not afraid to boot the ball into row Z, while not being the most attractive style of play it sometimes needs to be done.
What we have seen from Klavan is experienced performances, ones which often go unnoticed but are crucial to a victory. We have seen this many times this season with Klavan. Not only is he well experienced but his attitude has been fantastic.
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When Matip was fit, Klavan found himself on the bench a lot of the time and despite coming on in the last few minutes of the game his general game time was limited, but with the recurring ankle injury that Matip has suffered this season, Klavan has often been called upon to do the job. The big Estonian has done this superbly well, even scoring in one of the games away to Derby.
Klavan’s performances against Manchester City and Arsenal emphasises the characteristics he has shown during his time at Liverpool. Against Man City, we saw a performance that saw one of the league’s best strikers, Sergio Aguero, not touch the ball once in Liverpool’s box.
Ragnar’s no nonsense defending is also accompanied with some touches of sheer class often starting an attack off from deep. While not being the fastest of defenders, he uses his body frame and strength to often shepherd the ball out of play allowing the defence to have a breather, this is often needed in big games, a perfect example of this is against Manchester City where a superb defensive master class saw Klavan come out on top against City’s attackers.
However, when Matip does return from injury who do we take out of the team? Do we remove Klavan after some quite outstanding performances? Do we take out Lovren even though he has produced some equally good displays? Or do we see the introduction of a pairing of Klavan and Matip? An all Bundesliga centre back pairing could be the way forward for the Reds, one which may solve our defensive frailties. The tall figure of Jöel Matip and the sheer presence of Ragnar Klavan could be the answer to the many questions Liverpool’s defence have been asked over recent years.
Unfortunately, the game against Sunderland last week was not one of Klavans’ best performances, giving away a penalty in a deflating 2-2 draw to the relegation battling team. The natural rash nature of Klavan no doubt had an impact on his decision to stick a foot out and hope for the best, however, Klavan will no doubt learn from these mistakes and only get better.
The Reds sit second in the table heading into their midweek league cup semi-final with Southampton and the big Estonian has played a major part in this feat, and he could be a part of what may be a very special season for the Reds.