T-minus 3 days and counting. Juergen Klopp is exactly that many days away from sealing the fate of Liverpool’s campaign. Determined, or some would say, even obstinate in regards to his defensive midfield cover, citing Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Marko Grujic. At closer inspection, most would argue that Jordan Henderson is never quite the number 6 Liverpool need to shore up the defence, if at all, these days, a passable box-to-box midfielder at any rate, strictly speaking in terms of his form or rather, the lack of it. Emre Can is nursing a recurrent ankle injury and has been struggling for match fitness since his exertions in the European Championships. Marko Grujic has shown more proficiency at being the midfield runner with an eye for goal, and is unclear if he’d adapt well enough if called upon to play an unfamiliar role. That leaves Lucas Leiva.
There will be players, perhaps, even in the most star-studded of squads, that will make your eyes roll. Lucas, by cruel hand of fate, is one of those players. Once an embodiment of snarl and resilience, and one of the most efficient tacklers in Europe, prior to his unfortunate back-to-back ligament damage – his name announced at the starting line-up is met with sighs of exasperation.
There is more reason to knock the wind out of the collective, figurative sails of Liverpool fans, as widespread reports claim, that a player the Merseyside giants have had monitored throughout the course of last season, has opened negotiations with AS Monaco. The irony of the whole situation is, that 26-year-old Ignacio Camacho, from Malaga, is perhaps the perfect Klopp defensive-lynchpin out there in the market, available for a paltry release clause of 15 million GBP.
Srijandeep Das of The 4th Official twists the knife in, and explains why this transfer may be the best bit of business Liverpool would, should, could do all summer. But, Liverpool, being Liverpool, in all likeliness, wouldn’t.
Ignacio Camacho is from the school of hard knock and teeth-gritting tackles. High-energy, intense, a force to be reckoned with in the air, playing with an air of authority – he will be one Klopp will regret not going for, seeing how naturally he fits in his template of play. Readiness to step out of defence and rack up interceptions, and set the tempo and the tone of a passage of play, instilling calm, otherwise, belies his brutality. Unlike most defensive midfielders, who like to fall back, Ignacio looks to be on the front foot to engage, and if that doesn’t work – destroy; relying on his South American cheekiness and guile when and if required. He has also shown the tendency to carry the ball from deep and charge with all the obstinacy of Liverpool’s transfer committee – an aspect of play long since gone, after Javier Mascherano.
While combative, the backbone of his defensive play is his anticipation, which stands out on first glance – not just without the ball – with it as well. His tremendous body work, contrives on drawing a considerable number of fouls from his opposition.
Ignacio, to add to his list of burgeoning virtues, can operate as a box-to-box midfielder, when tasked to.
He likes a full-blooded tackle-and-a-half, and while it has its upside, it does mean there is looming danger of him picking up one too many stray yellows, having collected four back-to-back-to-back-to-back yellow cards last winter. Probably idolises Andoni Goikoetxea, the man famous for breaking Maradona into two – he’s one who is susceptible to the red mist.
His passing accuracy is an accusal levelled at him – but, to be fair, while he may not be as expansive as, say, a Xabi Alonso, he’s not Momo Sissoko either. It’s a statistic that has been skewed owing to the demands of his role in a limited Malaga side. He has shown an appetite to take the impetus of making play from deep, and on occasions raised a few eyebrows with his venturesome attempts, that goes to show that there may be quite a lot to him than the tag of a terrier.
It’s a bit too obvious, innit? Maybe a little too obvious for Liverpool’s sake to entertain the thought of finally getting a proper, designated defensive midfielder, and not your bit-part fill-ins who do half-a-decent job, half the time? For 15 million quid, a man of Camacho’s standing and talent is few and far in between, and Liverpool and Klopp will stand to regret missing this opportunity, on perhaps one too many opportunities this season. Liverpool will have none but themselves to blame if their season goes belly-up because of this.