Jack Lusby

Feature Writer

Signing Steven Caulker Would be a Good Long-term Solution for Liverpool

With rumours circulating about Brendan Rodgers’ interest in signing Steven Caulker, Jack Lusby (@LusbyLatest) looks at why this would be a good move for the Liverpool manager.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, November 3, 2013: Cardiff City's captain Steven Caulker in action against Swansea City during the Premiership match at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Steven Caulker in action against Swansea City. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last week, The Telegraph reported Brendan Rodgers’ interest in signing another of his former charges, current Cardiff City captain Steven Caulker:

“Brendan Rodgers is interested in Cardiff captain Steven Caulker as he considers how to tighten up Liverpool’s defence in the summer.”

Signing Caulker, as journalist Matt Law astutely points out, would significantly enhance Liverpool’s often shaky back line; as an added bonus, at 22 years old, the English centre-back has plenty of years left to develop.

 

The Current State of Affairs

Assessing Liverpool’s current first-team centre-back options, at present Rodgers possesses two senior left-footed and two right-footed defenders – Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger; and Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure respectively.

Therefore, Caulker, as a natural right-footer, would pose a threat to Skrtel and Toure if he were to join the club.

Toure, brought into the club over the summer to compensate for the loss of leadership and experience following the retirement of Jamie Carragher, initially performed admirably for the Reds.

However, his early form has since diminished. This is particularly shown with an outfield-high of two defensive errors leading directly to goals, courtesy of Squawka: a statistic made more significant given Toure’s infrequent game-time.

Elsewhere, Skrtel boasts, again according to Squawka, an average duels won percentage of 60; the defender also averages at 15 defensive actions per game.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 23, 2014: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel looks dejected as Swansea City score the third goal during the Premiership match against Liverpoolg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, statistics cannot cover all aspects of a player’s game.

Skrtel’s increasing propensity to grapple with his marker in the box in dead-ball situations has led to many believing the 29-year-old is an accident waiting to happen; this was initially brought to the spotlight this season after several altercations with Caulker earlier this season.

The likely future is that Rodgers will hold onto Toure, and whilst he continues to publically back the often-shaky Skrtel – as reported by The Guardian’s Andy Hunter – the Northern-Irishman could well consider the future of either Skrtel or Agger at this season’s end.

With at least one centre-back surely headed for the Anfield exit at the end of this season, Caulker would provide a solid solution on the right-side of defence for many reasons.

 

An Impressive Campaign

Along with the composed Peter Whittingham and the Mascherano-lite Gary Medel, Caulker has proven one of few bright spots in Cardiff City’s dreadful maiden Premier League campaign.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-kniAWL8cs&w=560&h=315]

In a team under-the-cosh in seemingly almost every fixture, Caulker has managed to near-equal Skrtel’s average of duels won with 58 percent and an average of 12 defensive actions per game.

The Englishman also seemingly has an eye for a key pass, his total of eight chances created double that of Skrtel’s this season.

It is also worth noting that Caulker hasn’t made a single defensive error this season, despite consistent attacking pressure; all statistics courtesy of Squawka.

The ex-Spurs man is a composed presence amid a shaky back-four, something which could be allayed with his projected future centre-back partner Sakho.

 

Youth

As previously mentioned, Caulker as a 22-year-old presents a long-term defensive prospect for Rodgers were he to sign for the club.

The Daily Express recently reported the manager as claiming his club as vital in the development of young British players:

“I think it is a good signal and a good statement – especially for young British players – that if you come to Liverpool, you will get your opportunity if your focus is right.”

It would be natural to assume that if Caulker were to join the club, as evidenced by the immense progress of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan under Rodgers, he would be in the best place to develop his game.

Moreover, an impressive 2011/12 season spent on loan with Rodgers’ Swansea side should be more than enough to convince the pair this is the right deal.

 

Experience

Whilst Caulker undoubtedly has time on his side, the London-born defender would also come into the squad with a wealth of experience.

As mentioned, the towering centre-back was employed by Rodgers to marshal his defensive ranks in Swansea’s debut Premier League season; Caulker made 26 starting appearances in total, as per WhoScored.

Returning to parent-club Spurs, Caulker played a significant part in their Premier League and Europa League campaigns for the 2012/13 season, providing the young defender with vital experience amongst elite competition.

Signed by Cardiff City for a BBC Sport reported £8m this summer, Caulker now has experience in leading a side, with ex-manager Malky Mackay appointing the Englishman captain upon his arrival.

With Toure currently, purportedly, filling the void left by the influential Carragher, Caulker should have more than enough experience to step into the breach.

 

Opposing Factors

Naturally, there are opposing factors to the signing of Caulker.

With Skrtel, on the whole, performing admirably at the heart of defence this season, it could be argued that the Slovakian should command a first-team position for the foreseeable future.

Elsewhere, with the return of Tiago Ilori from a loan spell at Granada next season, many would favour the adept young Portuguese to partner Sakho for years to come.

Finally, with recent Daily Mirror reports linking Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen with a move to Anfield, this may raise the argument that Caulker isn’t the high-profile signing Liverpool should be looking to make for their projected Champions League campaign.

 

The Verdict

Whilst these factors could also be argued convincingly, as a player with the Premier League experience, defensive influence and vast potential to develop under Rodgers, Caulker surely fits the bill.

With Cardiff City relegation-bound, a cut-price move for the England international would be an astute piece of business for Rodgers and Liverpool this summer.

Aspiring sports journalist and ardent Liverpool supporter. This Is Anfield's feature writer.
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  • joe

    Signing him would completely defeat the purpose of signing Ilori imo.

    • me

      Imo he would come in and take coates place. As many defenders as we have, 1 more senior would be ideal for a Champs league campaign. Illori is still very much inexperienced despite the talent he has. Caulker would be a great backup and occasional starter, much as toure is.

    • http://enria.org/ JonnyS

      iLori is a good 2 or 3 seasons from being a usable CB, a position that requires some maturity. Look at how Smalling hasn’t yet made it in that position for example. Agger is a freak for starting as a CB so young.

      iLori is likely to spend a season or two as a backup full back before moving into the centre. That’s normal to learn where mistakes aren’t quite as critical as they are in the CB position.

      Lower league teams in spain allow iLori to play as a CB but not in the EPL. He was bought for the future when Agger and Skrtel have hung up their boots.

      Caulker would be a good Toure replacement as Sakho is there and there’s plenty of seniority around right now aswell.

      Also it would p*ss off Spurs!

    • Karun Jung

      I totally agree with what Jonny S said, Illori is playin great out there and with the way they play in Spain, he makes for a very good CB. I would honestly like to see Illori given a few games next season, if not then loaned out to get some experience because i believe he is a really good future prospect. I also think signing Caulker would be a really smart move considering his skills, age, potential, and experience. Him along with Sakho would be a dream CB pairing for any team at the back. And it makes perfect sense with our style of play, but if we do end up bringing him in then its almost certain that either one of Skrtel, Agger, or Toure will be let go. And we could always reinvest that money on whatever player BR would want to bring. it will definitely be a tough decision to let go of either Skrtel or Agger for a lot of us. But i trust BR with his decisions for the good of the club. YNWA

  • Arjan

    Sign Caulker and get rid of Toure. We’ll then have 4 class CBs (two young, two experienced) that would give us the necessary squad depth if we’re playing Europe next year. As for Ilori we can send him on loan until it’s the right time to bring him into the first team. Coates on the other hand needs to be sold.

    • Rak S

      Depends what you consider overpriced. Anything less than £10m would be fair-good value in my opinion.

      • Arjan

        If Cardiff get relegated we might pick up a bargain.

  • EBo

    Caulker + Sackho = Brick Wall

  • Redatheart

    I’ve got a feeling Caulker’s agent is working for TIA part-time. This is the 2nd time in a week there has been an article on here hyping up his potential value to our club when the chances are that any supposed LFC interest in the player is completely baseless. Still, you believe what you want to believe I suppose and with no game this weekend I guess they need to fill this board with something.

    • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

      Shh, don’t tell anyone.

      Quite widely known that Rodgers attempted to sign Caulker last summer (seeing as he was with him at Swansea too) but Spurs wouldnt sell to a rival. Plus the report stated above. So hardly baseless is it.

  • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

    When Cardiff go down they won’t be able to demand a big fee.

    • EBo

      Your realy going to try and predict the business practice of Mr Vincent Tan ? Good luck with that ! This is the guy who asked “do you need to play a goalie ” when he first turned up in the Prem !

      I predict he will ask for a straight swap ! Suarez for Caulker : )

    • Rak S

      We paid Portsmouth £17m for Glen Johnson, the season they went down. It depends how many suiters the player will have.

      • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

        You really think that comparing the ownership of LFC in 2009 to the ownership of today is worthwhile? Staggered.

        • Rak S

          LOL… We’ve overpaid for other players since the new owners have come in! That’s not the point. The point is that if there’s competition for players, inevitably the asking price is likely rise accordingly. No need to be staggered, it’s basic economics ;-)

  • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

    It’s possible for his efforts to be admirable, but his performances shaky, Sir.

  • allaboutanfield

    I would have prefer to develop some of the youngsters namely Kelly and Wisdom.Keep the money for more pressing issues like a defensive midfielder , fullbacks , attacking midfielder , goalkeeper and another striker.

    • http://enria.org/ JonnyS

      definitely needed positions you put down there. And it’s a little surprising that Wisdom isn’t being considered (if he isn’t), though BR was hoping to make a full back out of him.

      But Kelly is touch and go as to getting back to form. He’s had a rough year and looked out of his depth in games since coming back. Lets hope a rest and good pre-season gets him performing again. But he may not get it back unfortunately.

  • http://enria.org/ JonnyS

    Don’t think it’s got a lot to do with left or right footed players, more the style and which side they are comfortable with.

    Agger and Sakho are ball players, they can carry the ball out and are good passers. Skrtel is more of an “empty it” type of defender and pairing the two types works well as they complement each other. Toure has a bit of both qualities but is more a skrtel type than an Agger type.

    Hence Agger and Sakho don’t play together typically, mainly because they both prefer the LCB position, not really because they are left footed – after all you often have 2 right footed CBs.

    But also they may not complement each other as well as a more direct / blunt skrtel type paired with either of them, providing the covering function to the ball player who is often further up the pitch.

    • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

      Yes, but it’s the same point; Sakho is the long-term left sided CB, Caulker plays right-sided CB.

  • Maninder Singh

    With the little I have seen of him, anything under £10m would be a great business in my opinion. Though it makes Illori’s buy redundant but if we do get CL next season, squad size need to dramatically improve if we want ti compete in all competitions. Illori I guess wont be given any playing time anyways untill he gets atleast half a season of EPL under his belt (via loan to an EPL club ofcourse). Not sure how much help would the loan exp in Spain will give him to help his transition into EPL.

    • serbianred

      The moment he signed for Cardif I said to myself, boy if Cardif get relegated we could get Caulker for cheap next year. I loved him at Swansea and couldn’t understand how Dawson was getting ahead of him in Spurs side. I knew that Spurs wouldn’t sell him to us but they did the next best thing, sold him to relegation candidates. For me he would present great value for money especially if we could get him under 10 mil and sell agger for 10+.

  • red_kiwi2014

    I dont get this article, you giving reasons why we should sign him then you post the video of him playing against liverpool and hes getting d*cked left right and center. We dont need him, hope he stays were he is

    • tyler durden

      To be fair, the only defence not to look bad against Liverpool this season was Chelsea so harsh.

      • red_kiwi2014

        I understand that, but for $20m? thats diabolical! why not put in a bid for Matts Hummels for $25m, same age and dominates him in every aspect. i would be very upset if united sign him and we get this guy…. we are so ambitious….

  • tyler durden

    The defence needs a leader – hard to say but we may have won the league this year if carra hadn’t decided to bugger off to sky. Skirtle is a great last ditch defender but often creates the last ditch situation through lack of positioning and foresight. He also has failed to be the vocal defensive leader we need. We have lots of talented centre backs bit it is the leadership quality we now require. If caulker brings this then let’s get him. We also need to assess all the other cbs we have. Coates – I think we are hoping for a good world cup so we can cash in. I’ll or – I suspect another season out on loan. Toure – good initially but unforced errors cost us games, just the opposite of what he was bought for so can be let go. Wisdom- is he ready yet or another year on loan at Derby? If ready then we may look to sell Skirtle. If not we may sell Skirtle and bring in mica Richards (although maybe used as fullback instead. Kelly – looks to have lost what he had so sell . Finally see what we would have to pay for vertongen and swop agger out if the deals look good.