With Liverpool reportedly set to announce the signing of Spanish left-back Alberto Moreno this week, Jack Lusby asks whether this spells the end for Jose Enrique.
A fee of around £16 million has been touted for the 21-year-old, and any signing would involve a contract tying the World Cup absentee to the Reds long into the future.
After the miserable loan signing of Aly Cissokho last season, and the vapid contributions of Paul Konchesky et al in previous years, Brendan Rodgers will be hoping that this signing will be the end of a torturous search for a long-term left-back at the club.
It could be argued that the Reds found their man three years ago, with the signing of Jose Enrique from Newcastle United, but long-standing injury problems and considerable lapses in concentration on the left side of defence seem to have led the Spaniard to fall out of Rodgers’ favour.
Moreno would be the next significant signing of Liverpool’s summer, following that of Rickie Lambert from Southampton, and it could well spell the end for Jose Enrique at the club.
With such a high transfer fee, and a prospective, long-term contract, it is safe to assume that Moreno would be first-choice at Liverpool from next season.
Furthermore, at just 21 years old, the Spaniard can hope to hold on to this position for many years ahead.
This deal represents very much FSG-era Rodgers signing, with an eye on both the present—with Alberto expected to contribute from the off—and the future.
What’s more, the Sevilla man would expect no less, surely, after becoming a regular fixture at the La Liga side in a season crowned by Europa League glory; at a Champions League-challenging Liverpool, Moreno would look to play as much as possible.
Enrique & Rodgers
In comparison, Enrique has never seemed fully settled under Rodgers at Liverpool.
At the beginning of the Northern Irishman’s tenure at Anfield, Enrique’s commitment to the club was put under question, particularly following a disastrous performance against Young Boys in the Europe League.
The Daily Mail quoted the Liverpool manager in regards to the desire of the Spaniard to succeed at the club: “if you are not quite right in your preparation and you come in looking in for an easy life, to pick up your money, it won’t be here. We are a club that has to be fighting going forward.”
This is the belief that the former Swansea manager has looked to instil since his arrival in charge of the Reds, and the 41-year-old continued “I will play a 17-year-old if he fights and he has quality. It is quite easy.”
This is a sentiment that rings true following the rise of Jon Flanagan at the club, with the 21-year-old exceling in Enrique’s stead in 2013/14, and determination and fight proved hallmarks of the England international’s game.
Flanagan has deputised for the Spaniard throughout a long-standing knee injury, which limited Enrique to only eight Premier League appearances last season, a situation which seemed to frustrate Rodgers.
The way in which he told LiverpoolFC.com “we’d hoped he’d be a little bit further on in his recovery,” back in January, may suggest a lack of commitment to recovery.
Enrique & Moreno
This is an unfortunate situation, as on his day Enrique is a left-back of phenomenal strength and occasional attacking ingenuity; as per Squawka, the Spaniard made two assists in his short eight appearances in 2013/14.
However, lapses in concentration add to the feeling of an unsettled defence for the Reds, and this is surely something that Rodgers is looking to counter this summer.
Transfermarkt.co.uk value the player at just over £10 million, and the Spaniard still as two years left on his contract, suggesting that a move away from Anfield could be profitable for the Reds, particularly given that Enrique is now 28 years old.
Moreno, comparatively, should give Rodgers an established left-back, potentially, for a decade.
The 21-year-old’s intelligent, perceptive style of play—as evidenced by an average interceptions per game rate of 2.5 (WhoScored) compared to Enrique’s 1.1—will suit the Northern Irishman’s system adeptly.
Where next for Enrique?
It is clear that Enrique is far from a poor player, and the Spaniard has contributed impressively at times in a Liverpool shirt; a move away from Anfield could benefit many a club.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 9, 2014
For example, whilst current managerial unrest seems to be holding back any potential incomings and outgoings at Southampton, the news of Luke Shaw’s interest in a move to Manchester United will likely see the Saints on the lookout for a new left-sided defender.
Elsewhere, following the unsuccessful signings of Pablo Armero and Razvan Rat at the Boleyn Ground last season, and the release of George McCartney, Enrique may pique the interest of West Ham United.
The Spaniard’s attacking prowess would add some much needed verve to Sam Allardyce’s squad.
Furthermore, with the Daily Express today linking current first-choice left-back Davide Santon with a move back to his Italian homeland, perhaps Newcastle United could be tempted by a return for their former charge.
Whilst it seems to have not quite worked out under Rodgers, Jose Enrique will likely be dissatisfied with the likely petering out of his Liverpool career.
The Spaniard does offer the Reds a solid option on the left side of defence, but the potential signing of Alberto Moreno seems to have put paid to any future for the Sevilla man’s older compatriot.
Furthermore, the form of Jon Flanagan, the return of Andre Wisdom, and the bemusing vitality of Glen Johnson at the club seemingly leave Enrique the most likely option for the chop this summer.
A loyal servant of the club, Enrique could be labelled the victim of a sensational, and hugely enjoyable, transition under Rodgers; perhaps it is time to move on, for the best.
Do you think the signing of Alberto Moreno is the end of Jose Enrique at Liverpool? And is it for the best? Let us know in the comments below.