Martin King reviews the season that Ragnar Klavan has had with Liverpool after joining the club from FC Augsburg last summer.
Part of Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp’s squad overhaul last year was the departure of two defenders in Martin Škrtel and Kolo Touré.
Bringing in a young and talented defender would’ve been an ideal option for the Reds, however, just as important to any top team is experience and Klopp got that in a then-relatively unknown centre-back by the name of Ragnar Klavan.
Signed from German Bundesliga club Augsburg for a fee of £4.2 million, the Estonian defender was brought into Klopp’s side primarily as a squad rotation player, with Jöel Matip and Dejan Lovren the first-choice centre-back options.
Even so, Klavan started on his competitive debut for Liverpool due to the pair’s struggles to stay fit as a unit, delivering a composed performance as the Reds won 4-3 in their opening Premier League game of the season at Arsenal.
The 31-year-old would go on to make 14 more league starts, including five in domestic cup competitions, scoring his first goal for Liverpool in the League Cup.
In truth, Klavan has easily lived up to his “squad player” tag, proving to be a reliable backup when needed. The former Augsburg player has displayed good traits in his strength, positional discipline and concentration, while his willingness to remain patient for a first team chance is also a notable plus.
However, having won 17 tackles this season with a success rate of 44% and making 13 interceptions, 90 clearances and nine blocks, it must be said that Klavan will likely remain a backup option.
Some of Liverpool’s poor defensive performances this season already speak volumes of how much a top centre-back with far better statistics than Klavan is needed. The Estonian will have the odd game in a season, whilst his know-how will prove useful for the rest of Liverpool’s squad.
That said, keeping the defender shouldn’t be a bad option as his first season at Anfield may not have been eye-catching but he would remain a decent asset to Klopp’s squad.