Jonas Hector: Scouting Germany’s left-back vs. England

28.03.2016


Rumoured Liverpool target Jonas Hector played the full 90 minutes in Germany’s 3-2 loss to England on Saturday night, providing a showcase of his ability.

England's Jordan Henderson and Germany's Jonas Hector (left) in action during the International Friendly match at the Olympic Stadium, Berlin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Germany. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Liverpool have been rumoured to be looking at a number of left-backs already ahead of a summer where they are expected to bring in either a challenger or a replacement for Alberto Moreno.

One of the most frequently linked names over the past couple of months is Hector, Germany’s first choice on that side of the defence.

Hector was in action against England over the international break, as Joachim Low’s side fell to a 3-2 defeat Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, thanks to goals from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier.

But how did the 25-year-old get on, and what did he show he could offer to Liverpool?

 

Jonas Hector, 2015-16

Hector plays in the Bundesliga for FC Koln, as a first-choice left-back who has on occasion slotted into central midfield for the club. He has featured in 26 of the team’s 27 league games this term so far, after playing 33 times in each of the previous two seasons, highlighting his endurance and importance to the team.

His side sit ninth in the 18-team table, but by points tally they are far closer to the relegation scrap than the fight for a European spot.

Hector has racked up 2,500 minutes of game time at club level so far this season, comparable on Liverpool’s squad to Mamadou Sakho or Roberto Firmino. While both the Reds’ players have had spells sidelined, Hector has been available for almost every game for his team—but they have no Europe nor second cup competition to play in.

He made his international debut in 2014 and over the last 12 months has established himself as the first choice for his position, playing each of the last seven Euro 2016 qualifiers and totalling 11 caps to date.


 

Defensive

While one-off games are never enough to base any complete decision on, seeing Hector in action against players he’d come up against if he does move to the Premier League could obviously be enlightening. Playing on the left of Germany’s defence, his direct rivals were potential future team-mates: Adam Lallana on the flank of England’s midfield, Nathaniel Clyne surging from deep and Jordan Henderson, who attacked that channel from the centre.

From the first few minutes it was clear what England’s intention was: press high, challenge aggressively in numbers and turn Germany’s defensive players around. It worked on Hector twice in the opening instances of the game, as he once lost possession and once lost his man to allow players to run in behind.

He wasn’t alone in that regard in Low’s back four, but it was an early test of his capacity to react and recover positionally.

In one-on-one instances, Hector was by and large a confident defender, standing up in challenges strongly and showing more than once his aggressive nature. There were occasions he was easily dribbled past, though, allowing crosses to come in from England’s right.

It’s also notable that all four starting full-backs saw the ball hit the back of the net from a passage of play down their side of the penalty box, so although Hector couldn’t prevent Clyne’s low ball in for Vardy’s equaliser, he certainly wasn’t alone in that regard over the 90 minutes.

When under pressure both Hector and Emre Can, playing right-back for Germany, were happy to tuck in somewhat on the sides to make the defence reasonably compact, but they were both still spread across the entirety of the penalty box—a little wider than Liverpool’s defence has been of late.

Aerially he wasn’t overly tested, but the speed of build-up play certainly tested his ability to time challenges and interceptions on the deck. Hector didn’t always come up on top in this regard, and the same can be said for Germany’s holding midfielders and centre-backs.


 

Offensive contribution

Going forward, Hector was an intriguing mix of aggressive and reserved.

Clearly he was comfortable breaking forward into space, often ahead of the ball to overlap or receive a pass to feet rather than waiting for the pass and then driving into space. There was little hesitation at continuing runs into the final third, but certainly not in a Moreno/Jordi Alba manner—in other words, not to hit the byline or sprint full throttle in behind the defence.

Instead, Hector’s role was in continuing the build-up, recycling play infield more often than not or else picking an intelligent pass into the box.

His crossing was an extremely noticeable point: not because it was hugely accurate, but because it was methodical and caught out the retreating defence rather than blindly swirling a ball in for Mario Gomez et al to attack.

Hector put early crosses in at every opportunity when he got ahead of the England back four, either low toward the six-yard box or else cut back as a pass rather than outright cross, looking for onrushing midfielders from the second line of attack.

Three or four times it yielded shooting chances for the likes of Toni Kroos or Marco Reus, though not always with any great end product.

It was extremely apparent that Hector was most interested in retaining possession for his team, not outright forcing the matter to create scoring opportunities, but if retaining the ball could be done with a release into the box, the left-back didn’t hesitate to do so.

Finally, his position in the final third was worth noting.

Most often it would be the case that Hector, like many offensive full-backs, hugged the touchline and provided more width to the attack while the attacker ahead of him, Reus on this occasion, was allowed to break infield.

However, there were two occasions where the early ball didn’t find Hector out wide and, rather than remain static on the fringes, he continued his movement to take up a position in the box, darting between full-back and centre-back.

On neither occasion did the ball reach him, but the intent was there on his part to offer an alternative outlet.


 

Into Liverpool’s setup

Germany’s Jonas Hector controls the ball during his international friendly soccer match France against Germany at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015 in Paris, (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

That Liverpool need another left-back this summer is beyond question. Moreno has done extremely well at times, and has frustrated and annoyed Jurgen Klopp and the fans at others. With Brad Smith a game runner but nowhere near the established quality required, and Jose Enrique finally set to depart, depth as much as quality is an issue in the position for the summer.

Looking at his performance on international duty, Hector looks to provide a reliable base at the back and an outlet going forward. If he were being graded on past Liverpool full-backs for this particular display, he’d be awarded a “Steve Finnan” grade rather than a peak-form “John Arne Riise”—pretty good at most key traits, without being absolutely stand-out anywhere.

Compared to how Liverpool have played in the past two or three months, there’s a question over Hector’s agility and in being aggressive with wide attackers.

Positionally, any defender transferring to a new team will be asked to do things slightly differently, so the fact he operated wider out of possession than Moreno and Clyne do under Klopp isn’t too much of an issue, but it’s clear Hector would contribute to Liverpool’s offensive play based on fast-moving passes, one-touch exchanges and rotation of positions.

There’s little doubting his consistency and general level of ability given his status in the Germany team, but fans shouldn’t be expecting him to rock up at Anfield as an elite, world-class, utterly complete left-back.

There aren’t many of those around at present and Hector isn’t among them at this point—which isn’t to say he doesn’t have plenty to offer Liverpool next season.

Share:

People Also Read

More on This Is Anfield



More LFC news, opinion & videos

Fan Comments

Comments are retrospectively moderated. Some could be subject to delays before publication. They must obey the comment policy. Comments load below.

Please only discuss the article above. General chat can be made on our forums at forums.thisisanfield.com


49 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve heard we are linked with Jetro Willems as well… I think I would prefer Willems but he’s probably more expensive and not as experienced. Either would be a great addition.

      • Ok, maybe experience is the wrong word then. Willems hasn’t played as much against top competition.

        They both have plenty of first team experience, but Willems has been playing in the Eredivisie and Hector in the Bundesliga. Better competition in the BuLi. I still think that Willems has higher potential than Hector though. Would be happy with either, or…. BOTH???

        I can dream, right?

    • You can’t base how good or bad he is on the basis of one game it was a friendly for the Germans and a world cup final for England.

      • it was a joke. of course liverpool aren’t going to buy a player who they believe is rubbish. just that we end up with such rubbish players time and again.

          • Well we have improved since the start of the season the results have been up and down but we have been excellent in some games .

          • ok i don’t know, where were we when Klopp took over? where are we now? where did we finish last year?

          • 6 th last year after 3 years of squad building. We were outside the top ten when Klopp took over we are 9th at the moment but we can finish in the top 6 the football has improved since Klopp took over .

          • so we have improved from 6th to 6th? interesting! I’m not having a go at Klopp, rather the squad. I made the point when we still had Rodgers that this squad isn’t great and no manager can make this squad WC.

          • The football has improved since the start of the season and we could still win something and there is still a possibility of a top four place.The players weren’t playing for Brendon he lost the dressing room towards the end of last season.The squad is not that bad it needs a tweak here and there .

          • This is not a debate about Klopp Vs Rodgers. We all know Rodgers had to go and getting Klopp was a coup. I’m not criticizing Klopp either and yeah the football is more entertaining but let’s be honest the team hasn’t improved. The squad is full of average players and it was only Rodger’s last window he pulled it back just a little. Firmino was a real find, Gomez looks good, Ings and Clyne and great additions but Liverpool are only just above average and to compete for titles we need a good to great squad.

    • While I agree we need a better player becuase Moreno is absolutely rubbish,he is still much better then our fullbacks and would represent an upgrade.you can’t judge him on one game. He is a regular in Germany’s nationwide team,it wasn’t his debut

      • it was a joke based on the article. he might be WC for all i know, i never much noticed him in the game and to be honest hadn’t heard about him before the game.

  2. We need an alternative to Moreno. A full back who knows how to defend. A good english defender like Chilwell or Bertrand would be better because they know the league and could replicate Clyne’s success.

  3. One of the main things I noticed about him was his composure on the ball. Never looked nervous or anxious even in close quarters. Not as explosive in attack as Moreno but feel he has the intelligence to go or stay. I was impressed for the most part but, as stated, one game isn’t enough to make a final judgement. Plus I’m a Moreno fan so I’d like to see him work on his flaws and continue to grow with Liverpool.

  4. Hector would be a good solid signing. Jetro Willems would be good too, he has a lovely cross and is bullish in defense. If Liverpool have two fullbacks that are solid but not great in attack, we’d be hurting ourselves going forward and starving our strikers. We work the ball nicely into good positions but Clyne and Moreno aren’t good at whipping a good ball in. We need to stop wasting corners too. Jetro gets my vote.

    • Nooo, Jethro is absolutely clueless when it comes to defending. He’s got nooooooooo idea what to do and he always gets bullied.

      Jethro is one of the most overrated players after Depay.

      • Can you tell that to DragenSerbia though! xD..I’ve noticed him raving about him lately, & given that you are Dutch yourself, & are better informed than us in regards to the players there, I’d like you to put Jetro’s hype in perspective for Dragen! xD….

    • Jetro had 14 assists last season which is just an absurd amount and was a massive attacking threat. Suffered serious injuries this season so regressed. But I tend to agree with Onyx that from the few games I’ve seen he is a pretty poor defender. Hector or Durm would be more in the mold of what Klopp usually goes for.

  5. So another LB that’s better in attack than in defense. I’d rather give Smith more game-time than buying another player that will push him down the pecking order, mainly on experience, rather than real quality. If Klopp decides Moreno isn’t good enough, then I’m all for it, but then sell Moreno and keep Smith the second choice.

  6. What about Erik durm? Durm vs hector? They should do a piece on that. Or just a general comparison of the top 10 left backs in Europe (statistically) and then highlight the best suited for us depending on style and gettability factor.

  7. Honestly never seen much of Jonas Hector, can anyone enlighten me as to whether he is a good LB? If he plays at LB for Germany he surely couldn’t be all that bad, right?

    • I’ve only seen the 1 live game mentioned, but he’s keeping Erik Durm out of the national side too, so must be good.

  8. Who would have thought Liverpool would have both German fullbacks… And if we get Hummels and ter Stegen that’s a whole German defence!

  9. Definitely a solid signing if it goes through…could see him displace Moreno, or could see both of them share games amongst one another. Seems a fairly intelligent player as well.

    “More Finnan than Riise” – I’ll take it! Get it done!

  10. Moreno, for all his ‘faults’ and the amount of hate he gets, still ended up with more involvement (7assists and 1 goal) in goals than Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne and Emre Can (all 3 assists and 2 goals) for example – Moreno had as many Assists as Courtinho and only 3 players had more. With a bit more composure, that goals could easily have been higher. At 23 he still has potential to improve.
    Defensively in the league, no errors led to a goal and created 61 chances in 32 games. He also made 63 interceptions, 63 clearances and 5 blocks. He also had a 81% successful pass rate.
    Jonas (3 years older) played 300 more minutes and admittedly has slightly better defences stats but not as good attacking. Not as many chances created, assists etc.
    Moreno has been integral to our attacking set up as we don’t play with a left winger. Coutinho likes to cut in, not very pacy and Moreno is often the one providing width and getting to the byline. For all we know, that’s what Klopp has told him to do. Its possible that Klopp and co could work on the defensive side.
    Clyne often gets a lot of praise, but he actually performed worse (stat wise) than both Moreno and Hector in both areas – attack and defence. He made a few more blocks and clearances than Moreno but Moreno made a lot more interceptions. Moreno also won the most tackles too. Clyne also had a poorer pass completion at 79% and twice as many yellow cards.
    Point is that Moreno isn’t that bad. Yes it would be great to have a ‘defensive’ LB for some games – although we could lose that outlet and width in attacking. You also have to remember that most footballers are right footed, so a lot of attacks come down the right side IF we lose possession – Moreno’s pace has helped on a lot of occasions. Yes he does make silly mistakes on occasion and get things wrong – when to go etc but so does Alves, Alba etc but these are classed as ‘quality’. I would rather give Moreno another season with Klopp – inc a pre-season and no mid-week games – to work on his defensive side than waste £20m on a ‘panic’ buy. I know Hector would be good and we need cover anyway but we do have Smith and Gomez who can play there. If we do buy Hector, then where does that leave Smith? I know he isn’t upto the standard yet and time is running out – he is no longer a ‘kid’ – Older than Origi for example and no younger than Moreno was when we signed him.

Leave a Reply