It’s no secret that Liverpool have been rather poor defensively this season. Combining this with the occasional game in which the Reds can’t seem to find any breakthrough and you have a recipe for a mediocre season.
In the context of the transformation Liverpool are going through under Brendan Rodgers, mediocre is probably considered to be a fairly reasonable first phase in the change. However, season two (2013/2014) will need to see an improvement, or the support for Rodgers might start to dwindle.
With the January 2013 additions of Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho, Liverpool have added a certain flair and pace to the attack. It has already been rather fruitful this season, so you can understand why many Liverpool fans are licking their lips at the prospect of them donning the red shirt next season.
Therefore, the priorities for the summer transfer window should be on defensive options, with a primary focus on a centre-back. Like many fellow football enthusiasts, I didn’t anticipate the need for Liverpool to purchase a centre back so early, based on the evidence that Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger looked such a promising partnership.
This season though has highlighted many flaws between the two, and whilst Agger is usually quick, and reliable, mistakes mainly from Skrtel have hindered the growth of the centre-back partnership.
Add to this the lack of game time given to Sebastian Coates and the impending retirement of legend Jamie Carragher and there is a real problem awaiting Anfield.
The incoming defender (of which there surely must be one) has to have real quality if Liverpool are to reduce the goals conceded this season in the 2013/2014. One physical ability that the centre half must possess is pace; not necessarily lighting speed, but a reasonable amount of pace.
Whilst Carragher has performed admirably since his introduction back into the side, the lack of pace causes the defence to drop five yards deeper than normal. This then adds to the workload of Lucas Leiva which is a lot more of the pitch for him to cover. With a quicker defender, the defensive line could push up, without the worry of being exploited in behind.
Due to Rodgers’ style, the new signing must also be able to play football. It sounds rather peculiar saying a professional footballer needs to be able to play football, but what I mean is an old-fashioned, hoof the ball into touch centre half simply won’t do. The style of football being played at Anfield now suits defenders like Rio Ferdinand, or David Luiz; players who are comfortable receiving the ball, stepping forward and playing passes.
My personal recommendations for the role would be Kurt Zouma; the young quick Frenchman who plays for Saint Etienne, or Toby Alderweireld; the talented Ajax defender. Both players have good physical attributes, as well as high technical abilities. Either would make a good partner for Agger, but who will Rodgers choose?
Whoever makes the move to Anfield this summer is exciting, but one thing you can guarantee is that the style of football at Liverpool next season will be thoroughly enjoyable to watch.
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