Liverpool in need of “a real leader” and a new spine – John Arne Riise

on 22.02.2016


Liverpool must look to address problems with their spine in the summer transfer window, believes former Reds left-back John Arne Riise.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 10, 2008: Liverpool's John Arne Riise in action against Chelsea during the Premiership match at Stamford Bridge. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This summer promises to be one of the most exciting Liverpool transfer windows in many years, with Jurgen Klopp hopefully set to spend big on some top-quality players.

There is a clear lack of truly high-class talent in the current squad, especially in comparison with years gone by, and Riise believe a new spine is called for.

“I think that the central lines in every department have to be changed,” he told Goal.com.

“I think we need a goalkeeper, a real leader at centre-back, a central midfielder and also a centre-forward.

Daniel Sturridge is a fantastic striker but he spends more time on the sidelines than playing – and that is not good for the club.”

For all the quality of players like Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino, it is still a far cry from the spine of Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres from Rafa Benitez‘s time in charge of the Reds.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp thanking fans after 6-6 winning in penalties during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Riise expressed his delight at Klopp’s arrival as Liverpool manager, however, as the club looks to return to the summit of English football in the coming years.

“I was very happy when he was appointed Liverpool manager,” he added.

“He demands a lot of effort, hard work and high pressing. His style suits the club perfectly.

“Unfortunately, in recent years, the club has not been challenging for titles and a club like Liverpool should always be challenging for titles, season after season.”


With Marko Grujic and Joel Matip already brought in ahead of next season, things have started positively in the transfer market under Klopp.

There are sure to be numerous changes before the start of the 2016/17 campaign, and Riise is spot on when he says additions to Liverpool’s spine are of undoubted importance.

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159 COMMENTS

    • Is that on top of a new left full back as well?

      That’s a lot of business that needs sorting. Scary really and I’m not sure it can be done within one window. Secondly a huge influx of players means time in getting them integrated and working together.

      but that’s the position we’re in thanks to poor team building previously.

      • Well, Hopefully the Leader at the back can be sorted by one of our current crop stepping up or Matip as he’s very experienced for his age.
        The powerful mid could come from Can or Grujic in the future we’ll have to see.
        Ings was looking good for us, scoring goals, giving his all on the pitch maybe he could become that striker.
        But the Goalkeeper and Wingers for me are massively needed. As well as someone who can take a mean set piece.

      • Erik Durm. 23 years old, part of the world cup winning squad. Dortmund LB, MotM v Bayer 04 Leverkusen over the weekend, keeping Hernández in his pocket for 90 mins, providing the assist for Aubameyang winner as well as Key passes 1, Dribbles 3, Interceptions 6,Clearances 6,Tackles 2 and 16 battles won…and valued between £7-£10 million.

  1. We need this, we need that, blah blah blah… We need 4 years patience, the time within the gaffer has promised us with a trophy…

    • We need a new spine, there I’ve said it, I’m sure by now Klopp knows it as well, patience is a basic requirement of supporting our club, we’ve been patient for so long it’s in our DNA now, but it won’t take Klopp four years to sort the spine out, four positions, two windows at most, maybe Matip is the first step. Once the spine is sorted we can add the garnish…

      • Agree. I’ve said this a few times too, and got slated by Bodgers’ lemmings, especially that bozo Onyx who went out of his way to “prove” Bodgers did a good job with transfers and made the players more valuable using statistics plucked from the air (despite all evidences proving otherwise).

        • Klopp will know the priorities and the signs are he’s already addressing them, the summer window should confirm it..

          • True. This window is all about giving the players a chance to prove themselves, and for Klopp to know the weaknesses in the team that requires strengthening. We should see a mass clearing out of many underperformers, and some good players being signed that will move us forward. He is known for being able to find “treasures” and “polishing diamonds”, so I am hopeful under Klopp, we will spend less but be able to bring out the best in old and new players.

          • The first to go will probably be the ones that don’t and wont ever contribute, Enrique obviously, Wisdom, Mario, possibly Alberto, they don’t even need replacing, who leaves from the ‘starting’ eleven and bench will depend to some extent on who’s available to replace and upgrade them. A couple of the kids will hopefully step up and be given more opportunities but I would expect a few of them to be released as well, it will be interesting to see how Marko performs if he comes back from his loan, it’s going to be an interesting summer…

          • Even if we buy a top keeper we still need a number two, I’m hoping that’s the thinking plus it keeps his value up and if he’s not happy with being a back up we can still get a decent fee for him, time will tell…

          • Read again mate, I mentioned nothing about Klopp, I replied to the comment when the person mentioned Onyx, Onyx is the one who said Hendo is world class not Klopp mate, so you misunderstand my comment mate, so is that idiot above.

          • I love how you make these stuff up!!f##k sakes,you get a world class manager in at the club,and fans turn against him after five months!!that’s the difference between dortmund’s fans and our shower of shyte!! Why don’t you go support Chelsea you n#gga!!

        • It’s not only “Bodger’s lemmings” who grow bored of your unhealthy obsession. Let in go and move on!

          • speaking of bodgers lemmings wheres derek as he given up on lfc now that its finally sunk in that rodgers as gone
            klopp as no excuse for top four this season as rodgers would surely have got it with this squad HAHA deluded;)

          • No idea, probably board of the tools like TrueReds who have nothing positive to say, and only insult and attempt to bully.

          • I do’n’t think so. I can completely understand why he may have gone a bit OTT with the likes of Jacinta and TR. I never had an issue with him. We disagreed on most things (well 1 thing in particular), but thats what made for great debate.

          • This just highlights the demise since 1998.
            RB’s and LB’s at the club since 1998, as opposed to Clyne and Moreno….
            Finnan
            Babbel
            Riise
            Arbeloa
            Heggem
            Johnson
            McAteer
            Xavier
            Wright
            Aurelio
            Bjørnebye
            Staunton
            Ziege

          • What a character. Hasn’t reared his head for a while. I reckon he has transmogrified into P.S.

          • “here here”

            Liverpool fan Brian Reece voices his opinion on the transfer situation at Anfield…

            Liverpool Football Club was once a European giant, a club whose name alone would strike fear into the game’s elite, but today the Reds struggle to make it into the Europa League.

            Why? Because the five-times European champions no longer attract top players due to the club’s current transfer policy.

            Jurgen Klopp publicly announced at his first press conference that he has the final word on who arrives at Anfield, which technically is true, but it is perhaps as important to ask, who has the first word?

            The role of Liverpool’s transfer committee is supposedly to identify players who will strengthen the Reds, but this is far from the sole criterion when the committee decides who to target.

            Transfer fee, age, position, Liverpool’s own valuation, proposed wages and, crucially, the player’s estimated resale value, all reportedly play a part when the transfer committee presents a list of players for Jurgen Klopp to choose from.

            So yes, the Liverpool boss may get the last word, but how much use is that if it’s from the transfer committee’s proposed list?

            These polices are commonplace in the US sports industry, especially baseball, when the resale value of a player is part of the buying process, but that doesn’t mean they can be applied successfully in football across the pond.

            Buying young, talented players with potential is a good long term move in theory, but what Liverpool need right now is experienced, top quality players that can fit into the first team immediately.

            The transfer committee must stop treating the transfer window as if it’s a trip to Marrakesh in an attempt to bag a bargain with two shakes of an aardvark’s tail.

            They need to stop believing that the name ‘Liverpool’ will make players starry eyed, because it no longer has that impression.

            If Liverpool want to become Champions League regulars again, then this transfer committee need to hand responsibility for recruitment to Jurgen Klopp.

            In fact, I would actually suggest that the current transfer policy – including the committee – is unfit for purpose, and represents the biggest threat to Liverpool in their search for a regular top four slot.

          • its not going to happen its all about profit at the end of the day ,i world class player we cannot potentialy make a profit on his a no go

          • Not true. That is only one aspect of a players worth. Winning trophies, selling merchandise and getting to cup finals and CL are brings in revenue and profit.
            Anyway I’m not talking about buying the Messi’s. Bale’s and Ronaldo’s of this world. There is nothing wrong with buying players on the way up, just not dross like Allen, Lallana, Borini, etc,. e.g if we had purchased Aubameyang in the summer which I was hoping we would for his then value of £25-£30 million, we would have made a £45-£50 million profit, as now valued at £75 million.
            Nobody knows what FSG have promised Klopp, but I don’t think Klopp would have accepted the Liverpool job unless he was assured he could put together the type of squad he wanted.

          • It’s not going to compare with the budgets City and United will spend, but it doesn’t have to.
            Let them buy Bale and Neymar for all I care. That won’t fix the issues with their teams.

          • He’s working on the big campaign ! You know the one ! All the ex players and media are involved in at the minute it’s called ,Find we Brenny a new club .I hope he gets the Chelsea job I genuinely think he could relegate them whilst bankrupting the Russian mafia .

          • And this coming from someone who wanted Bodgers to stay on? And who switched side once it was apparent he was leaving? Grow a spine will u?

        • Rubbish, you don’t need to be ‘something special’ to recognise something so obvious, I don’t need to read Klopp’s mind to know he’s smart enough to know by now where our weakness’s are, the only thing I can predict in the future with absolute certainty is that I won’t be expecting too many intelligent responses from you…

    • We’ll get a trophy in this week I’m sure!!I’m hoping for the title within the next four years!!im sure kloppo will steer us to that long awaited title!!

  2. KK turned the ship around in 1 season, gave Bodgers a trophy winning team with 2 Finals, and a spine consisting of:
    Reina – Agger – Stevie – Suarez

    Bodgers spent an additional 300M with no trophies and no Finals in 3+ seasons, and gave Klopp:
    Mignolet – Lovren – Joe Allen – Benteke

  3. absolutely agree but we can no longer get proven players wanting to play for us. it has to be a start from scratch approach, with scouting team capable of buying hidden talents, example, coutinho. we do not know how grujic will be like but he is definitely in the mold of couts. all the existing players especially the younger ones like ibe, ojo, origi, gomez, smith, rossiter, brannagan, etc. must show that they will one day represent liverpool to become world beaters again. a never say die attitude, like what we see in suarez, must be a natural in-born thing in them. loyalty and pride in the club, just like gerrard, must be instilled and in klopp i think we have all the right ingredients to make it happen. spine of the team, at the moment, no one will want to come to us for obvious reasons, non-CL, sky-high price, sky-high salary and poor scouting team not anticipating and planning ahead on the approach to get the players needed, ending up with our club having to cough up crazy money to get players, example, benteke, just to name one out of a few disaster signings.

  4. We also need a left back as good as you Riise my man.

    RIISEeerrrrr!!!!
    Goodness gracious me!!!

    ~Martin Tyler (a Chester boy) reminding us that he isn’t a Manchester United fan.

      • send me the link.
        I’m guessing Alonso, Torres, Carr, Suarez, Mascherano, Reina, Hyypia, Finnan, McManaman, Fowler…umm Babbal? Litmanen?

        • Pepe Reina; Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, John Arne Riise; Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, [”am I in the eleven or not?”] Myself; Robbie Fowler, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez.

          cannot believe he put johnson in i would have gone for finnan

          • Ditto, also a close call with Babbal, Staunton and Riise as well. Would have liked to see him pick the manager and a subs bench too. Would have liked to see Litmanen on the subs bench.
            Glad to see no Owen…did he forget El Hadji Diouf? :)

          • so the only 2 I got wrong was Finnan (I still retain I’m right on that one though), and McManamen, but you have to play a 4-3-3 as you can’t drop any of Fowler, Torres and Suarez…and poor Macca would have no doubt been the 4th midfielder if a 4-4-2 as digger was before his time and the team needs width

          • The sad thing is I bet we could pick a 2nd and 3rd (maybe even a 4th) best eleven, and would still only need to pluck Studge and Couts from the current squad.
            Here is an example (not using any of Stevie’s or current squad)…and I think still better that what we could put out now. (close with Studge/Anelka granted).

            Dudek (or any other goalkeeper )
            Finnan or Babbel – Agger – Henchoz – Aurelio
            Berger – Hamman – Murphy – McManamen
            Litmanen
            Anelka

          • Dudek (or any other goalkeeper ) better than Migs

            Finnan or Babbel – both better than Clyne

            Agger – better than Lovren

            Henchoz – better than Sakho

            Aurelio – better than Moreno

            Berger – better than Milner

            Hamman – better than Lucas or Can

            Murphy – better than Hendo (close call but until Hendo can score regular v the scum, Danny gets it)

            McManamen – better than Ibe, Lallana or Firmino

            Litmanen – better than Coutinho

            Anelka – instead of Studge

          • One of, if not the most under-rated LFC player of all time. Criminally underused by the manager, due to his blind faith in Owen and Heskey.
            A criminal under use of a seminal talent. The team should have been built around him.

          • Litmanen was pure class and woefully underused and not played in his best position. a 2001 Litmanen was far superior to a 2016 Coutinho.
            Anelka can play more than 5 or 6 games a season.
            My point was with only Coutinho and Studge from the current crop, you could pick 3 or 4, maybe even 5 teams using ex players from 1998 to today to make better teams…showing the slide into mediocrity

          • Definitely Finnan, I was going to say Rob Jones but that was a bit before Gerrard’s playing days…

          • Collymore? Left the season before Stevie.
            Amazing how many RB’s and LB’s we have had since Gerrard came to the club…and all better than Clyne and Moreno.
            Finnan
            Babbel
            Riise
            Arbeloa
            Heggem
            Johnson
            McAteer
            Xavier
            Wright
            Aurelio
            Bjørnebye
            Staunton
            Ziege

          • He is incredible defensively but you clearly can’t see that. He rarely gets beaten and there isn’t a single player in the EPL who actually dominated Clyne.

          • Its cause he doesnt really make that many mistakes.Just because he doesnt bang in 30 yarders doesnt make him bad.

          • Ummn, the ex B Munich and AC Milan left back who won the treble with Liverpool, or….Moreno!?
            I never said he was our best LB, just a list of those better IMO than Clyne and Moreno

          • Mate I remember watching him play. I was buzzing when we signed him but he just didnt cut it. I think he played 15 or so games and moved on. For me Clyne is not spectacular but is a capable defender.

          • He played 43 games.
            I would take the 2001 Litmanen (played as a number 10) over a 2016 Coutinho.

          • 32 games.
            16 EPL
            3 FA cup
            4 League CUP
            9 Europa
            I agree he was’t all that and out of the 13 listed, he would be closer to 12th choice….but still better than Moreno (to date)

          • I thought he had played less games I stand corrected. Moreno has been frustrating i know, he may even be in the last chance saloon already.

          • I was just using the list as an example of how far we have slipped…II’m no fan of Ziege!
            Watched Dortmund beat Leverkusen, and forgot how good the Dortmund 23 year old LB is. MotM, and assist for the only goal, and valued £7-£10 million. Sign Erik Durm says I.

          • We do seem to be in no mans land at th moment. Stuck with some very expensive average players. I think our manager has his finger on the pulse though and the changes we are crying out for may happen. Dont know alot about the lad in question.

          • I agree though it would have been better to sign him in 1999..and build the team around him allowing him the freedom of the park and play maker role.

          • I don’t quite agree. I wouldn’t be so quick to slate Clyne’s all-round ability. He will improve, but I would take the current Clyne over these at RB: Arbeloa, Aurélio, McAteer, Staunton, Wright, Xavier.

          • I am not slating him, he’s just been very average at beat to date in his Liverpool career.
            Staunton and Aurelio were LB’s..and better than Moreno.
            You would take Clyne over Arboloa…wow!

      • You mean you took a new look at it? The GQ interview in which he shared his all-time best LFC XI of actual team mates was in Jan. 2015. Couldn’t agree more with his selection. That team would be world-beaters regardless of coach :-)

      • That’s not to surprising is it!Gerrard played with some incredible players,this team won’t even get in Gerrard’s 3rd choice team!!

    • I’m just thinking about the set-piece threat we used to have back in the day, whether it be from corners, balls into the box, direct free-kicks… There used to be real quality queuing up to take them – Gerrard, Riise/Aurelio, Alonso… And, you’ll forgive the shamelessly awful joke, we used to have balls in the box; real desire to get on the end of things.

      • I still remember when Aurelio made Cech look like a Sunday league keeper in that 4-4 draw. We were very unlucky in that tie.

  5. reckon it’ll take at least 3 windows to get decent player’s in and get rid of the crap that’s in the team at the moment

    • I agree i doubt we will challenge next season either we are way behind and the other teams are poor at that
      some clubs will spend millions this summer the prem transfer money spending record will be shattered
      We will get our usual 30 million budget

  6. Get in anyone who would be able to lead this team better than henderson would go along way to an improvement, plus a goalie, winger,defenders, forwards…..crikey another rebuild then?

  7. For all the quality of players like Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino,

    Did Riise say this because the way the article is written you would think he did
    Or is this Henry championing his favourite players because i have not seen him say this on the other 2 or 3 articles i have read about this

    • You understand quotation marks right? If not google it. It’ll make the use of English language a bit clearer for you. Regards, Uri Leeratwat.

        • Haha, took you long enough to figure it out. Not surprised understanding quotation marks was beyond you. I always think the closer a piss take is to reality the funnier it is, so that was really funny. Jog on lad.

          • not at all you sad man i figured it out the first time you used it ,it was not funny then either ,the 10th time it was just plain boring

          • Of course you did, you seem like the type who just lets things go!! Anyway, you’re boring me now.

          • Sorry for being dense here but I’m not getting the Uri Leeratwat joke…aside from the [email protected] bit…can someone explain? :D

          • I remember when all Liverpool fans respected each other and their opinions and in this day with us hiding behind keyboards we seem to be falling into the Scum category of fans, trying to vent on each other cause we really dont know whats going on behind the door.

            Truth is unless any member here is actually on the training ground with the team day in and day out seeing the full picture and not trying to make large decisions based on false/biased scraps of info from the media and what we see during gtames which is really not enough for us to go on in what choice is better to make more than the hired staff and management at LFC.

            So its all just personal opinion with the odd troll lurking about, lets get back to putting our energy into making us the best again, we have a head start since all other fans are pinging their players with coins.

            You start to win when you have a winning mind.

  8. I think that the building of a spine will be hampered by the retaining of Henderson, Lallana, Allen and Mignolet for sure. They are simply not the calibre of player that Klopp desires. We can also say that Skrtel, Toure and Lucas have entered their declining years and need to move into the background or be sold. Alberto M is at this moment neither an attacker/winger nor a defender and should concentrate as either one or the other rather than trying both and failing ( for the most part). The position of captain might be one of upsetting some. We do not have such a thing as a captain but Matip once here would fill and Can can be groomed over a couple to three more years. He is as we know still young. Ibe I feel is not making the grade and compared to two seasons ago is failing rapidly. I would not be surprised to see him also leave this summer. Just some of my thoughts there….

      • Also can is not that young barkley is the same age eriksen a year older
        Can will be a decent player he will never be a great player

        • Barkley has already been involved in 20 goals this season (12 goals & 8 assists) . Our strikers cannot even match that. Not sure some Everton fans really appreciate what they have.

          • I wonder if that is down to a big improvement thats what good players do they get better can seems to be standing still ,

          • Yes you could tell when he broke into the Everton team he had something special – a lot of our midfielders are decent/hardworking but nothing more. None of them score enough goals.

          • It hurts that they have such a good player
            He is not even a striker. God.

            Wish we could get him. This season he has been one of the best midfielder in Europe.

            He is exactly the player we need in our midfield.

            Will love to see him out side PL.

          • Umm I think they do..Barkley and Lukaku are the stars of that team..what makes you say they don’t?

          • Not saying all fans by any means but some fans get on his back quickly in games. You can hear it in the home games if things are not going their way.

          • Lukaku was called a flop when he first signed and looked like a waste of money. Much like our own Mr. Benteke.

        • Totally agree, fitness, stamina, durability is nothing without proper vision and intelligence where you make the best decision on and off the ball, as frustrated as it is to lose Sturridge when he does come back he sticks out like a sore thumb with his vision and thinking, same could be said for Coutinho just not as consistent as Daniel, these are the players we need, Stevie had great vision something he just had just had in him just like my fellow red head above.

          I expect a big clean up in the summer.

  9. I obviously get what Riise’s saying, but not another rebuilding project man…don’t think the club can take another one this soon. Klopp will handle it his own way.

  10. Most of us have been saying that for years and the back 4 hasn’t had any protection since Macherano left us.

  11. We need additions to the spine? What spine?

    We haven’t got any spine at all at the moment. That’s why they are cemented in midtable.

  12. It’s not a massive rebuild that’s needed just 3 top quality players, we got Matip and I’d keep Caulker letting Kolo leave and sell Skrtel. GK, DCM and an ACM/ST in the summer then add a player or two in January. Begovic, Xhaka and Jese would do ? but there are plenty of players we could go for, think we get hung up on players and feel massively let down when they don’t sign

  13. I agree we need a spine. A commanding centre back (not sure that’s Matip), a goalkeeper and a midfielder. Not sure if it’s necessary upfront as well.
    This would mean a new centre back partnership and Can dropping to the bench, as I don’t think he’s quite ready yet.

    • How does he get ready if he doesnt play? I think Matip will be our only CB signing. GK is a must and for me a DM player as well.

  14. The best game by Ashley Williams is nowhere near the best game for Sakho, but he is a solid, dependable organizer. At the same time, Flanagan doesn’t offer the blistering pace of Moreno, but is much more solid defensively.

    We had the 5th best defense in 12/13, but with the exception of a period with a back three of Can-Skrtel-Sakho, it has been a non-stop nail-biter every time the opposition entered our half. When you look at Leicester, they don’t have anyone who are going to make the Fifa 100, but they have a solid foundation for the PL.

    I wouldn’t mind less sometimes-8/sometimes-4 performances and a bit more solid 7s. And I just can’t see that happening with Mignolet. No matter who drops in as a CB, it is going to be a nail-biter.

    • I really dont know about Sakho, he makes me nervous. Maybe he will raise his game with a solid CB alongside him, and a sensible GK behind him.

  15. Kolo and Lucas have both looked like leaders at the back. Both unlikely to be able to keep a place long term though.

    • Lucas has had one game at the back, difficult to know if that could be a long term position for him. Kolo is a liability, not trying to be nasty but his lack of pace and ball playing ability may really hurt us next season.

  16. Hope we give that 16 year old AC Milan GK a miss, but a new keeper is a must, Ter Stegen? Matip, Grujic, new winger (Yarmolenko?), & a new striker.

  17. “I think we need a goalkeeper, a real leader at centre-back, a central midfielder and also a centre-forward.”

    Exactly right. This by far the weakest spine LFC have had in the last 50 years.

  18. Ah what I wouldn’t do for an in form Riise at his peak marauding down the left flank today. Great guy, love how he said “We”. Seriously, who doesn’t love a left back with a screamer in him?

    I had hopes Moreno would be the next Riise (especially after that goal at Spurs), but he needs a lot of work.

  19. Words of wisdom. Henderson wears the armband but I’ve always had my doubts. Not really one to inspire the team in the way Gerrard did. And with his long-term injury not even sure he should be an automatic pick. Hard to find a genuine leader among the current lot. At the back, forget about it!

  20. I would like to see alot of the deadwood cleared out, they arent working out and are wasting their careers while at the same time costing us a small fortune in wages. I dont mean it as a mass panic clearout. I just see alot of players that have had time to prove themselves but look like they will never be good for us. As for spine new GK, DM, CM and Striker (all depending who is sold) needed.

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