Henry Jackson

Feature Writer

Scouting Liverpool’s left-back solution: Marcos Rojo and Ricardo Rodriguez

The two left-backs have both been linked with a move to Anfield this summer as Brendan Rodgers looks to strengthen his squad ahead of next season. Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) assesses the qualities they would bring to the Liverpool side.

HULL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 1, 2013: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers before the Premiership match against Hull City at the KC Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This week The Liverpool Echo reported how Spaniard Alberto Moreno is Brendan Rodgers’ “top target” in the position, but reported interest from a host of other top European clubs and a potential bidding war with them could mean Liverpool will look elsewhere to get better value for money. Rojo and Rodriguez are two options for such.

MARCOS ROJO

Rojo is a very solid defender, who is equally happy at left-back or centre-back. The former is his preferred role, however.

The 24-year-old will start at left-back for Argentina at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil- he has won 20 caps since his debut in 2011- and with Brendan Rodgers keen to add more steel to his defence next season, his tough style would be perfect.

At 6″1 tall, he has a physical presence often lacking in full-backs, and his imposing frame often gives him an immediate psychological edge over his opponent. He’s also very cultured on the ball.

The former Spartak Moscow star has been terrific for Sporting all season, ensuring his side have the second best defensive record in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. Just 20 league goals conceded is hugely impressive.

Barcelona are reportedly tracking his progress too, highlighting the calibre of player he is.

RICARDO RODRIGUEZ

http://youtu.be/YIHe9by9tFA

Rodriguez has enjoyed a superb season with Wolfsburg, enhancing his reputation as one of the most highly-rated left-backs around.

The 21-year-old has everything needed to become world-class in his position: pace, power, dribbling, a terrific final ball and good defensive work. The threat he poses going forward is particularly impressive, and his seven goals and assists in 2013/14 would be good statistics for a winger, let alone a full-back.

The 19-time capped Switzerland international is a player being watched closely by some of Europe’s top clubs, and if Liverpool could get in early on him it could prove to be a masterstroke.

Rodriguez is a player who is only going to get better over the next few years, and any slight weaknesses in his game- he can switch of defensively now and again- will disappear as he grows more and more experienced.

Are they a better option than Flanagan?

Jon Flanagan has enjoyed a terrific breakthrough season for the Reds, maturing by the game and earning himself a place on England’s stand-by list for the World Cup in the process.

The signing of a quality left-back though would allow Flanagan to either act as cover on both sides of defence, or establish himself as the first choice in his natural role on the right.

The table below shows the comparison between Flanagan, Rojo and Rodriguez this season, both in terms of attacking threat and defensive expertise.

2013/14
Appearances
Goals
Assists
Goals Conceded
Flanagan251135 (in 25 games)
Rojo244015 (in 24 games)
Rodriguez3871050 (in 38 games)

This shows that Rodriguez is far and away the most effective of the three in an attacking sense.

The Wolfsburg star does often take penalties however, which, like Steven Gerrard this season, can make statistics like this somewhat misleading. His assists can’t be argued with though, and his final ball is exceptional.

Defensively, meanwhile, Rojo comes out on top. He has been a mainstay of the Sporting defence all season and it’s clear that he would add a presence to the Reds’ defence lacking all season.

Both Flanagan and Rodriguez’s respective defences have leaked goals, and although it’s more a criticism of the whole defensive unit than one individual, both need to take a portion of the blame. It would be the one slight question mark against Rodgriguez.

Conclusion

Both Rojo and Rodriguez would be terrific acquisitions by Liverpool, with the Argentine offering consistency and versatility, and the Swiss star bringing great flair and attacking quality to the team.

It would be Rodriguez who just gets the nod, however, as his potential is greater than that of Rojo. In the eyes of many, the Wolfsburg man has the ability to become one of the world’s left-backs over the next decade, and if Rodgers managed to take him to Anfield it would be a great coup.

Who would you rather see join out of Rojo and Rodriguez? Is Flanagan good enough to be first-choice left-back next season? Let us know in the comments section below.

Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.
  • Keith

    Thank goodness it’s Ricardo Rodriguez the footballer and not the wrestler :P

  • nana duodu

    Please get both and move flano to the right…fsg make it rain $$$$. We need competition internally for all games next season. …johnson is too comfy.

  • Keith

    Portuguese league better than in Germany? What are you talking about?

  • Keith

    I’m not sure getting someone from Valencia is a good idea :)

  • Zanatos

    Portuguese league is much harder then german??? Seriously???

  • Matthew Horvath

    This articles a bit weird, seeing as our main target is Moreno, who isn’t even mentioned.

    • PatrickTheRed

      Both of them look better than Moreno and we might not even be after Moreno. So it was a great article that shows there’s more options out there.

      • Matthew Horvath

        The Echo has reported that are main target at the moment is Moreno, and them saying it is nearly as good as Rodgers saying it. So how can this be that good an article if the LB that we are probably after isn’t included but two players are that have either been barely linked to the club or even not at all? Fact is, Moreno should be included in this article.

        • gregorp

          At the beginning of the article it’s stated: “This week The Liverpool Echo reported how Spaniard Alberto Moreno is Brendan Rodgers’ “top target” in the position, but reported interest from a host of other top European clubs and a potential bidding war with them could mean Liverpool will look elsewhere to get better value for money.” So these are presented as alternatives.

    • Rak S

      Moreno was mentioned in a previous article about LBs 2 months ago. Fair enough to highlight the talents of two other options, imo.

  • PatrickTheRed

    Flanagan isn’t a good enough fullback imo. Even against Newcastle he looked clueless and was taken off. Champions league teams would target him and under pressure his bad passing and technique really show. I’d buy a new RB and LB if I was Rodgers. Maybe over time Flanagan could develop but he isn’t ready now and I wouldn’t trust Johnson either.

    • Juraj

      I don’t agree with you. After this season he will be even more ready then ever. He gained that experience and the confidence. He will only improve. He can’t have a great game every game. Nobody has! I would play him on the right though. That is his natural position and he can be brilliant at it.

    • Goh Jun Ling

      He is a full back. A natural full back. If you have actually pay attention to him as much as I did on all his senior game, you will know that his lack of technical showing is down to tactical discipline. When he did show though, he has enough to be a modern full back. His bad passing? Mate, have you even watch him play? His passing is better than Johnson this season, all the long through pass that find our flank players were joy to watch. What is the point of having a full back that can attack but couldn’t defense? I thought defensively he did great. Name a few mistakes he done that directly lead to goals, if he’s to be offloaded, we could as well offload half the defense. I am not arguing with the terms “good enough”, he was good enough for us, a team finish at 7th in previous year, I admit that he does need to up his game in terms of positioning sense this year if he’s to improve to a players where team compete with the elites. However, I seriously disagree with the notion that his passing, composure and technique is bad. He is as good as most players his age in terms of composure.

      • PatrickTheRed

        He played decent against the big clubs because he just had to sit back and defend but against the smaller clubs going forward he’s a train wreck. The way Rodgers plays football the fullbacks are very important in being able to attack and make assists. If Liverpool buy quality fullbacks Flanagan will never get a game in proper compilations, why? because he’s average and made to look better because how terrible our other fullbacks are. I’ve obviously payed more attention than you have. I’ve watched every Liverpool game back at least 5 times. In time he could develop but Liverpool are playing champions league football next year and trying to win the league, Flanagan will only be a weakness if he’s a starter.

        • Goh Jun Ling

          Firstly, if you’ve watched every single game at least 5 times, I guess we’re both entitled to our own opinion. Secondly, besides flanno being bad, I believe we’re on same page in the sense that we both think he could be even better for future. Thirdly, if you give me a choice to pick a right back from any epl team now, besides our neighbour, I couldn’t think of one which I would pick over flanno. Fourth, if we could get Rodriguez? Great. Or else, why would you pick a kid same age as flanno, never play English game, and just got his debut season? I rather have our own local born and bred, been through mentally challenging period. Oh, if we could get 5 Cafu at peak? That is another story. The fact? We aren’t. If you had watched every single game 5 times, and still think flanno is bad? So be it, I rest my case here. I for one had defended players like Henderson and Lucas in the past, I had my fun time laughing. Peace.

  • Redblooded Male

    Real will sign Moreno. Rojo or Rodriguez would be excellent.

  • Goh Jun Ling

    Luke Shaw….

    • Rak S

      £27m…

      • Goh Jun Ling

        Worth it…………

        • Rak S

          No…..

  • Rak S

    You and your figures… I swear, you change them every day!

  • Rak S

    Deary me… You’ve outdone yourself there… smh.

  • MarlboroMan

    Can’t see Rojo becoming a good left back for us, Chelsea sure but not us. Rojo is more suited to play CB or in a defensive setup where providing width will not be expected from the LB position. If Agger gets sold and Rojo bought then he could cover the LB when he need to shore up defensively. Its Rodríguez, Moreno, Shaw or Alex Sandro for me. Not Ryan Bertrand either, please.

  • kamal

    While the discussion is about LB , I think we need 3 mids. One DM and two AM, for DM i think M’vila or RODWELL, and for two AM RAKITIC and ITURBE would be perfect as both are better and cheaper option then Lallana.

  • Aaron Johnson

    Rodriguez is by far and away the standout LB in europe at the moment. No question he is better than Moreno and Rojo while also with much much more potential. He also speaks perfect English where Moreno does not which IMO is a huge factor in defence.

  • Josek

    What is fantastic though is that I 100% trust Brendan to get the best one (technically gifted & potential to get better) money issues aside.

  • Goh Jun Ling

    He’s right footer, playing on left. Crossing would probably be the last thing he would want to do under such tactics. I agree that he may not be good enough to compete with the European giants in UCL coming seasons, but his technical part of the game is definitely improving. To me, his weakness lies in his sense of positioning, if he could cover spaces more he would be a solid full back for years to come. Technical wise, we haven’t see him trying to beat his markers on consistent basis, but passing wise, I thought his passing is good, sadly, better than Johnson this season, especially in final third. Johnson is just horrible this season. I believe we would be able to see more dimension of his game when he’s able to switch back to right back. Show some faith in local lads. YNWA

  • Juraj

    To be good right back or left back you don’t need to have great technical abilities. You only need to make good tackles, win the ball, take the ball out into opposition’s half and cross it. At that age under Rodgers he can be England’s regular! .

  • Shaun

    ah! of course :)

  • SuperGops

    Anyone who says they are ready to go with johnson and flanagan next season are real brave hearts. Flanagan is average at best, i can point out atleast 3 goals which were down to his sloppiness.Young may be, i wouldnt bank on him now that we can look at better options in the market… And Johnson is past it.

    Micah Richards for RB/ Back up option Wisdom…i am hoping Kelly does well next season..its make or break season for him…

    Moreno for LB/ Back up buy should be Bertrand

    Enrique and Jack Robinson to be sold.

    The only centre back i want is Lovren

  • SuperGops

    I just hope Brendan gives the young Aussie Brad Smith a good go at LB next season. I see loads of potential in him, i am not sure of either of these options to be honest. It is the pressure of going for title that is making BR bid over the top for Moreno etc. Need to be patient.