Connect in the back of the net

Liverpool FC gaffer Jurgen Klopp has been pretty quiet on the signing front this transfer window, recruiting just three players in almost two months. Meanwhile Merseyside rivals Everton are boasting their list of successful transactions, signing seven new players so far including the return of their former front-man Wayne Rooney.

The Reds don’t seem too fazed though, with new recruits Dominic Solanke (former young Chelsea striker) and Mohammed Salah (former Roma winger) impressing fans with their noticeable pre-season performances. The lads have already scored 3 goals between them and have made great contributions to Liverpool’s lifting of the Premier League Asia trophy this afternoon.

The newest signing to break the long, inactive spell since the two attackers is Hull’s former left-back Andy Robertson. The young man is thrilled to be making his move to Merseyside and I’m excited to have him on board. If there was anything I wanted to take away from this transfer window, it was a left-back.

But that’s only a fraction of the defensive issues Liverpool have been dealing with. Prime target Virgil van Dijk seems to be unattainable at the moment, with the Saints not budging for a deal despite the Dutchman stating he no longer wishing to stay at Southampton.

 

An unstable back four

VVD’s requests to join Liverpool have been vocalised and I’m sure Klopp’s magic will work and make his (and our) wishes come true, but for now we are dealing with stubborn Saints, a lack of action and a very leaky defense.

Nathaniel Clyne’s protege, Trent Alexander-Arnold is a quick, fiery young player but he needs to learn his place on the pitch. When the Reds are on the attack, TAA is amongst the attacking players that are pressing forwards; often leaving a free gap for the opposition to worm into.

I admire the lad’s work ethic and his passion for clinching the win, but as a defender he shouldn’t be putting all of his effort into dribbling past the opposition and making crosses. He has all the attributes to make a great defender, he just needs to remember which end of the pitch he should be spending most of his time in.

The youngster isn’t the only one guilty of this, though – Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne can all be very attacking players, and as our only senior choice for defenders at the moment, it’s very alarming when there’s no defense in place because there’s nine or even ten men striving for a goal.

It’s not uncommon for defenders to be great assets to scoring goals – Spurs’ Alderweireld, Everton’s Ashley Williams and Alonso and Azpilicueta of Chelsea are just a few to list that accomplish this. But these players manage their attack : defense ratio well, which is something the Liverpool boys need a few lessons in if we want to avoid conceding.

With only one defender in the bag and no other promising links, Klopp’s underwhelming interest in full-backs needs to crank up a few gears, because with the Premier League giants recruiting shiny new forwards, Liverpool’s shaky defense will completely crumble under the pressure.

 

No place for Keita

Not only is it puzzling for the management to be chasing the RB Leipzig midfielder instead of potential defenders, it’s even more confusing that no one has stopped to ask the real question, where will he fit into the team?

Liverpool work best with four at the back and I can’t see Klopp changing that any time soon. So with only six places left to fill, he will be forced to make some tricky decisions about who he will start, who will be benched and who won’t even make the team sheet.

New signing Salah has earned his place in the starting XI and works a treat alongside Philippe Coutinho. Daniel Sturridge looks fit and fighting once more and will hopefully be promoted back to the squad’s first choice striker.

Providing Klopp chooses just the one striker up front, that leaves only three available spaces with Adam Lallana, freshly fit skipper Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, James Milner (who will return to his original position), Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Marko Grujic queuing up to fill them.

Along with power striker substitutes Divock Origi, Real Madrid target Ben Woodburn and new boy Solanke, it’ll be tough to decide who will play and how long for.

So it begs the question, what’s the plan for Naby Keita?

 

Klopp needs to decide

The Reds have already bid massive amounts for the Guinean and are prepared to offer a final £75 million to seal the deal. £75m is a mammoth fee for a player I hadn’t heard of until this transfer window.

His goal and assist tallies from his previous season are impressive but it doesn’t separate him from Mané, Coutinho, Salah or Firmino.

His speed and work ethic also match midfielders Lallana, Wijnaldum and Emre Can and most, if not all of those will be on the bench when the season starts.

So would Keita earn a fast pass to the starting XI and see another great player benched in favour of him? It looks that way if the deal is finalised, so why should we replace a great player who has settled into the Anfield family for a newcomer of similar quality?

Keita is a solid player but he has little to offer Liverpool that they don’t already have with their current players. With £75m on the table – which is more than what Barcelona bought Luis Suarez for – LFC could be pushing for well-known and highly rated defenders to tighten up the loose ends at the back.

Midfield hasn’t been a problematic area for the Reds in years and with four great strikers to join in the fun, the idea of shelling out such a huge sum to gain talent we already have is ludicrous.

 

Moving forward next season

If Liverpool clinch the van Dijk deal or sign another defender of equal (or even better) quality, I will be a very happy camper with this window’s deals. Our two main strikers are in good form, with two talented youngsters to back them up.

We have a plethora of brilliant midfielders and the promise of a new and improved defensive force is on the horizon. Not to mention our fantastic manager and the endless support from the fan base, Liverpool FC have a lot of promise for this coming season.

Let the battles commence!

 

Written by Georgia Goulding

Follow Georgia on Twitter @gjgoulding

Check out her excellent football blog: Football, Findings and Fiction

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