Matthew Stinton talks Liverpool Football Club’s left-back problems and whether he believes James Milner continuing to play the position is a good idea.
The summer of 2016 was certainly an eventful one for the Liverpool fan base (on the internet at least), with many wanting John W. Henry’s head for the failure to sign Mario Götze and the first ten replies to every single one of the club’s tweets being: “can he play left back?”
However, Klopp proceeded to show a huge middle finger to the Jonas Hector fan club by turning to Mr Versatile himself; James Milner, who had never played a game of football at left back before in his life.
To his credit, Milner did an excellent job, for the most part, playing in an unfamiliar position and rarely putting a foot wrong.
When disaster struck after the new year, I think the system was a much bigger problem than the individuals but it was at this time when fans started to become frustrated with Milner, in particular.
He is undeniably limited as a fullback; his attacking contributions were a large cause of that frustration, with his cut inside crossing a particularly poor part of his game last season
Despite the fact that he put the team first and did a pretty good job in a position we desperately needed to strengthen, it has become clear that he probably isn’t a permanent solution to our left back problem.
Especially with Alberto Moreno’s Liverpool career looking to be coming to an end, it is time to bring in another player.
Although it seems unlikely that we won’t bring any sort of left back in this summer, it seems just as unlikely that we’ll be spending big money on one. Especially with centre back and central midfield signings seemingly prioritised at the moment.
If reports are true, targets Naby Keita of RB Leipzig and Virgil Van Dijk of Southampton could cost £70 million each.
While more recent reports suggest both transfers could be very difficult to pull off, others such as Graeme Kelly (one of the more reliable Twitter accounts out there) believe both are still likely to happen.
Even if we don’t sign those players, the fact that we could be willing to spend so much money to strengthen in other positions suggests that if a left back were to come in, it would be relatively cheap.
News on any left back targets has been quiet for some weeks now; the only recent rumour has been dismissed, with the Echo reporting that Liverpool do not want Faouzi Ghoulam in return for the potential sale of Alberto Moreno to Napoli.
With this lack of news, it is looking increasingly likely that we could see James Milner at left back for another season, with a young player perhaps being brought in as a future solution.
I would personally rather have a new first choice, but who really knows what Klopp has planned. Whoever he does – or doesn’t – bring in, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.
After all, look how Mané and Wijnaldum turned out after so many questioned them being brought in.