Liverpool and Left-backs. The perfect analogy I can think of is this really-real American TV show from the early nineties: Married… With Children. For the uninitiated, it was the Bizarro World polar-opposite of the gag-inducing niceness of The Cosby Show, which imbued utopian, familial values. The dark comedy focused on the subtle nuances of dysfunction. The dynamics between the errant children of Al Bundy and Peggy and themselves, and their correlation of the sheer dank, devoidness of personal growth and success. Sounds familiar, Liverpool fans?
Not since the exploits of the howitzer, John Arne Riise, have Liverpool won a major trophy. Sure, if you are pedantic enough, you can cite the League Cup as a major trophy. I cite 1st prize at my high-school sack-race as a major achievement in my CV, so I guess it’s only fair. The point remains, though. Fabio Aurelio, unfortunately, was a crock; Paul Konchesky was rather sh**e; Andrea Dossena was Italian; Emiliano Insua was over-played; Aly Cissokho looked baked and struggled with munchies; Jose Enrique who wore tight pink tank tops which accentuated his perky man-nipples, could not be taken seriously.
Such has been the disillusionment amongst Liverpool fans, that Alberto Moreno, rightly and wrongly has taken the most of the brunt. His performances from the latter half of last season have instilled just as much lack of confidence that his first-half displayed that legends relatively new and relatively-middle-aged have come out with relatively strong words, suggesting the young Spaniard’s ineptness in the defensive third have cost Liverpool matches and a Europa League Final. Most recently now, John Arne Riise, who had garnered 334 appearances in his time Liverpool scoring 30 goals, has added to that growing consensus.
The 4th Official’s resident hipster, Srijandeep, not surprisingly, defying the general view maintains the 24-year-old Alberto Moreno (who, coincidentally, follows him on twitter) is good enough, but considering his consistency or lack thereof, could do with some support.
Here’s him stacking up the possible options of Jürgen Klopp.
Mattia De Sciglio
Club: AC Milan
Price margin: Medium
One of the most competently-versatile left backs out there, two-footed, Mattia De Sciglio has the ability and the shrewdness to play across the defence. His versatility would give Jürgen Klopp some respite considering Liverpool’s recent injury crisis. Stern in the tackle, De Sciglio’s formidable positioning allows him to be two-steps ahead of the opposition in typical Italian fashion. For all his poise, he does possess the agricultural necessity required to ply trade in the Premier League.
Club: PSV Eindhoven
Price margin: Low
Assist-machine, the mercurial Jetro Willems would fit well with Jürgen Klopp’s attacking intent. His uncanny close control over the ball is drawn from years of futsal in his formative years, gives him a consolidated, tried and tested repertoire of tricks and feints to take on his man, put the yards in between him and his marker, apparelled with his turf-tearing pace, ship in those crosses.
A superb athlete, he makes up for his defensive lapses with his sheer drive and physicality on and off the ball. Prior to his injury-marred campaign, Willems notched up 13 assists – just a small testament of his superlative technical ability.
Price margin: High
‘Defence first’ is probably the motto Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam abides by. Not easily tempted to buccaneer forward, rather bides his time for the right opportunity in respect of his team’s positioning. A cerebral left-back, the Algerian imbues balance in the left side of defence with his tactical understanding of space and time. Ghoulam is all about economy of movement and the tackle – establishing himself as one of the most astute defenders in the Serie A, he is rarely seen over committed, and is likely to get the upper-hand a majority of his duels – winning 64.46% of his duels as opposed to Alberto Moreno’s 45.80% in their respective leagues.
Price margin: High
The shining lights of the Bundesliga, they don’t come more well-balanced than Ricardo Rodriguez, who has been long courted by the crème de la crème of Europe. His price-tag has so far been a deterrent to many – but considering the years of disillusionment that Liverpool’s left side of defence has elicited, Klopp would be well advised to cough up the necessary cash for a player whose virtues he’d be well aware of and probably admires.
The most close-to-home comparison one can probably draw is that of Leighton Baines in his prime – with his ability to consistently being able to find the killer ball from deep. Under Klopp’s tutelage, Ricardo can turn out to be one of the most respected left-backs in Europe.
Jose Luis Gaya
Price margin: Medium
Barcelona, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund. What all of these clubs have in common is their liking for a technical attacking full-backs with searing pace. Jose Luis Gaya of Valencia is exactly that, and the aforementioned clubs are all trailing him. The defensive midfield set-up of Valencia lets Jose have the freedom to waltz down the left with sheer disdain and authority. Liverpool fans would be forgiven to be circumspect with this particular option, as in essence, he’s what Alberto Moreno offers with slightly better tenacity.
While I still maintain that Alberto Moreno has all the tools to be one of the best left-backs in the league, at his age and due his predisposition to attack, being a left-winger for majority of his formative years and his professional playing career, he would need the time to garner the tactical discipline and know-how. Moreno was in contention to be Liverpool’s best player for the first-half of last season, and a lack of a proper back-up caused him to be jaded – and it seems he hasn’t quite recovered his focus.
T4O would recommend Liverpool to splurge the cash on either Ricardo Rodriguez or Faouzi Ghoulam. Mattia De Sciglio and Jetro Willems have shown a predisposition to injury, while Jose Luis Gaya, he may provide the numbers, isn’t the instant fix that Liverpool desperately need.