Talking Matip, new signings, Lovren, Lucas and Skrtel’s futures – Liverpool’s defence in 2016/17

14.03.2016


Our latest roundtable discussion focusses on Liverpool’s defence and what the future holds for the Reds’ defenders this summer.

defence-collage

Welcome to our roundtable discussion series on This Is Anfield, where we look at one upcoming or current theme surrounding Liverpool and ask the opinions of multiple onlookers as to how the Reds should proceed.

Liverpool’s recent good form has led to increased talk of European competition of one form or another for next season, but there’s little doubt that further additions to the playing squad will be needed for Jurgen Klopp to make the team truly competitive, starting with putting a first-choice defence in place.

We’ve asked for the views of four people to talk about Klopp’s plans and their hopes for next season: the host, a newspaper or online journalist, a Liverpool writer from TIA or another site and a supporter involved in discussion on social media.

This time out it’s Sachin Nakrani of the Guardian, TIA’s Matt Ladson and Anfield Index regular Sam McGuire join host Karl Matchett.

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With five clean sheets in the last seven games, do you see Liverpool’s defensive record of late being down to individuals or systemic improvements?

Sachin: There have definitely been systemic improvements, which can be seen by the fact a variety of different combinations have been used by Klopp at centre-back since he took over at Liverpool – partly through design, partly due to injury – and the back four has generally looked better than it did under Brendan Rodgers. There have also been individual improvements, in particular Dejan Lovren, who looks a player reborn under Klopp.

Saying that, we should not get carried away. As was the case under Rodgers, Liverpool still look vulnerable at set pieces, in particular when defending the second ball, and it was not that long ago that they were conceding three against Arsenal, four against Norwich and two against Leicester and Sunderland.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren after the 4-1 victory over Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matt: Both – individuals playing better in a more settled system. The back four of Clyne-Lovren-Sakho-Moreno has better balance than others we’ve had previously this season and is our strongest setup. Using Flanagan in two successive games in order to give Clyne and Moreno a rest has no doubt contributed too.

What people often forget too though is that the attack – having an attacking threat – means less pressure on the defence. These last seven games have been the first time this season we’ve had all our best attacking players available. So it’s perhaps at the other end that’s contributed more than people realise.

Sam: With so many different centre-back pairings being used by Klopp I’d say it’s impossible to put it down to individuals.

Liverpool seem to be using a 4-4-1-1 system in a lot more games lately when not in possession and this is definitely aiding the defence. It’s a compact formation and teams are finding it difficult to break down. I’d not go as far as saying Liverpool are parking the bus but they’re definitely digging their heels In.

Karl: Both. There’s little doubt that a few individuals are going through a good period compared to a few weeks or months ago, Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren among them, but there is a far better team structure in place now without the ball.

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It’s no longer all headless chasing back in a crowd, instead there’s an obvious pair of four-man lines and plenty of players happy to fill in elsewhere when needed. There’s still work to do and the clean sheets stats can be misleading to a point, but it’s certainly better.


 

Schalke’s Joel Matip is already sealed and coming in, but would you add another central defender this summer? If no, why? If yes, what standard—top-class starter, squad option, experienced backup?

Sam: Matip is a solid addition to the squad but his passing isn’t the sort to break the lines of the opposition. With that in mind I hope Liverpool look for a ball-playing centre-back squad option, with potential to become a starter in the future.

19.11.2011, Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, GER, 1. FBL, FC Schalke 04 vs 1. FC Nuernberg, im Bild Joel Matip (#32 Schalke) // during FC Schalke 04 vs. 1. FC Nuernberg at Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, GER, 2011-11-19. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Kurth..***** ATTENTION - OUT OF GER, CRO *****

Matt: From Klopp’s words about him, it would certainly seem he’s arriving as a first choice player. He’s only 24 so has some room for development as a centre-back, but clearly Klopp wants more aerial presence and Matip will certainly provide that.

I watched Schalke the other week and he looked good. Composed, strong and definitely an organiser. But then there’s a fair few clips of some individual mistakes that are concerning. He’ll be a first XI player, but not top class, yet.

Karl: Without a doubt, another centre-back is an absolute must-have, and for me it would be not just a starter but the first choice. Matip is a nice addition but I can’t imagine he’s the absolute No. 1 pick for Klopp out of every available defender.

After a goalkeeper, the centre-back pairing is the most important part of this summer’s rebuilding as it’s going to be part of the side in place for three or four years, hopefully more, and as such he has to pick the player he wants to lead the defence from the middle. Then the partner to complement that starter can be chosen accordingly—but the top-class starter is definitely still required.

Sachin: Not so long ago I would have said a centre-back was a must, but I’ve been really impressed by Lovren’s improvement under Klopp – no longer do I feel he should leave the club in the summer and if anything, he is the club’s best, most consistent central-back right now.

Mamadou Sakho has gone the other way somewhat since he returned from injury but overall I’m a fan of his too. So alongside Matip that gives the club three decent options at centre-back, with Kolo Toure likely to leave in the summer and Martin Skrtel, in my opinion, also someone who should depart from the club at the next available opportunity. I’d then given the fourth centre-back spot to Joe Gomez. Where that leaves Tiago Ilori, I have no idea.


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Pick the single centre-back you’d love to see at Liverpool next season—and why would he be a success?

Karl: Mateo Musacchio, of Villarreal. Very strong, reasonably good in the air, great pace and acceleration into space, extremely comfortable on the ball or passing with either foot and hugely aggressive in his defensive work. I would be very reassured in the rest of the summer’s work if this calibre of defender was brought in.

Matt: A fully fit Sakho would be great, for the whole season. I know he divides opinion, and sometimes he doesn’t help himself with the odd erratic moment, but being fully fit for a full season, playing alongside a regular partner, he can be the centre-back we need. I’m not sure we need to go out spending another £20 million on another defender.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2009: Liverpool's Sami Hyypia, holding his son, waves goodbye the the Anfield crowd after a decade of service for the Reds. Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on the final day of the Premiership season to finish second in the League. (Photo by: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having said that, there is part of me that thinks doing what Houllier did in 1999 should be an option and sign a new pairing (plus goalkeeper and holding midfielder), as he did with Henchoz and Hyypia. Two players specifically signed to play together and benefit each other.

Sachin: As said above, I’m not looking for Liverpool to sign a centre-back – instead the club should full out to get a world-class goalkeeper. My personal choice would be Samir Handanovic from Internazionale.

Sam: Nicolas Süle from Hoffenheim. Can never have too many Germans, can you? The youngster has everything to be a top class centre-back and wouldn’t cost a fortune. In my mind he’s has the sort of profile that Liverpool should be targeting. He’s confident with the ball, likes to play the ball into feet and he’s got the physicality to cope in England.

 

Which of LFC’s current senior central defenders would you a) absolutely offload, b) be prepared to sell and c) be determined to keep?

Sam: I’d absolutely get rid of Martin Skrtel. Liverpool have shown in his absence just how well they can perform as a unit without his constant backtracking. I think Steven Caulker won’t have his spell with the Reds extended either, he’s not made much of an impressive defensively since his signing. Likewise I’d sell Andre Wisdom because I don’t think he’s at the requisite level to perform for Liverpool.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 31, 2015: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel in action against Chelsea during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’d listen to offers for Ilori, Lovren and Toure. Although I think Ilori has potential I don’t see him fulfilling it whilst not getting games for Liverpool. Toure is a bit of a cult hero but he’s not getting any younger so I’d not renew his deal.

I was dead set on selling Lovren but he’s proving to be capable as of late. He’s not the rock solid defender many would have you believe but he’s not floundering anymore. If a substantial offer arrived I’d sell him, especially given his injury status.

Gomez has the potential to be great and should be an important squad member, for now. Sakho, although he’s injury prone, makes the Liverpool defence better no matter who he’s beside. He’s also captain material.

Sachin: Skrtel – sell, Sakho – keep, Toure – keep but expect to leave, Lovren – keep, Ilori – like to see more off but that’s unlikely, so sell, Gomez – keep, Caulker – return to Southampton, Wisdom – I’d forgotten he was still a Liverpool player. Has no future at the club; sell.

Karl: Offloaded would be Kolo, Skrtel, Wisdom and Ilori, with Caulker’s loan ending without anybody noticing. I’d be determined to keep Gomez.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 17, 2015: Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against AFC Bournemouth during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That leaves Sakho and Lovren; I’d prefer to sell Lovren but there are a lot of players to get rid of this summer and he has improved, which may make him worthwhile keeping around.

Sakho I’m a huge fan of, but as per previous answer, it’s all about the first-choice defender. If Sakho complements that signing then great, he can stay and play, but if not, I’d accept selling Sakho to allow a better partnership to be built.

Matt: Offload – Skrtel, Ilori, Caulker and Wisdom. Prepared to sell – Lovren and Toure. Keep -Sakho and Gomez.


 

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Would Lucas Leiva be in your thoughts as a centre-back option for next season, given his performances there this term under Jurgen Klopp?

Matt: Possibly, as a fifth choice. I don’t think Lucas will be happy to stay around knowing he won’t be getting much playing time next season, so imagine it will be a mutual decision for him to leave. But should he be happy to remain as a squad player, then sure, a back up centre-back and back up midfielder in cup games etc. But he’s nowhere near the level required for a first XI.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 9, 2016: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva in action against West Ham United during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sam: As a one off type thing occasionally yes but I wouldn’t plan a season with that Lucas as a centre-back in mind. He’s reckless in the tackle at times and his lack of pace is an issue. He’s been impressive in his cameos there but it’s a bit like United using Carrick there, when the novelty wears off you’re left with a limited player on a key role.

Karl: No, only in the deepest, darkest moment of need. It’s rare that we’ve been in that place for centre-back this season, but it’s unlikely to happen again.

Sachin: Lucas has done very well at centre-back but a club of Liverpool’s stature and ambitions should have specialists in that position, so he should be nothing more than a back up option for when injuries/suspensions mount up.

 

Assuming fitness and availability, what would be your first choice back four and chief protector/holding midfielder for the rest of this season—and would you be happy if the quintet began 2016-17 in place, too?

Matt: Clyne-Lovren-Sakho-Moreno; Can.

If that started next season we’ve gone wrong somewhere in the summer. We must sign a new midfielder, and we must sign a new goalkeeper. I’d be happy to have another left-back to compete with Moreno. Solidify the spine of the side.

Sachin: Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Can. I’d also like to see Joe Allen given a go in midfield alongside Emre Can and in place of Jordan Henderson. I was really impressed with Allen in the Europa League win against Man Utd and would love to see him given a chance in CM before a decision is finalised on his long-term future at the club. Henderson also doesn’t look fully fit to me and could do with being pulled out of the side.

In regards to next season, Matip will come into defence and, as things stand, I’d play him alongside Lovren. I also have concerns regarding Alberto Moreno. I’m a fan of his but some of his decision making at left-back makes me want to rip my eyes out of my head. I’d be open to Klopp upgrading that position.

Sam: Clyne, Lovren, Sakho and Moreno with Emre Can as the deepest midfielder.

Ideally for 2016/17 I’d want a new right centre-back to replace Lovren, perhaps Matip will fill that role, and an actual defensive midfielder in Can’s place enabling him to play the box-to-box role I think he’s suited for but for the remainder of the season that would be my go to back five.

Karl: Clyne, Lovren or Toure, Sakho, Moreno at the back, Emre Can ahead.

It needs at least one, if not two alterations for next season’s first-choice five.


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193 COMMENTS

  1. Just remember one thing, Skrtel didn’t call the wrong number, you picked up the wrong phone. Double hard, Facked

  2. Skrtel has been a loyal servant of this club, and while it might be time to leave, I am not eager to get rid of him and seeing him leave would make me sad nonetheless. I think we should have more respect for him.

    • I thought we showed him respect by giving him a new contract. But realistically he has no future under Klopp, but he still holds a decent amount of value. Napoli seem to come sniffing every window,

      Skrtel for Higuain straight swap? ;)

        • I still think Ilori is so young he could easily come good and be a top CB. I do wonder whether he’ll still be at Liverpool when that happens though.

          • I’d still keep Ilori until at the least next January, probably even summer 2017. Worst case scenario he can take Gomez’s 4th spot (assuming Kolo is not offered another year) if, and probably when, there’s a complication with his knee recovery once the real test of it starts with competitive action again.

            I also like the idea of Ilori and Gomez competing directly for their place in the squad. I think it’s a much better way to push on their development next season than have either of them singularly competing against much more experienced centre-backs all the while knowing that no matter what they will be 99% nailed on for that 4th spot. I think Ilori has shown enough during his loan spells to not think it unrealistic that a good coach could bring a great player out of him.

  3. Hey Karl can you make a profile like jack does for the CB you suggested, but in your way. Would also love for Nicolas Süle and Johnathan Tah. Both are amazing young German talent.

      • It was nothing to do with other commentators flagging anything. No one had a chance to see the comment in order to flag it.
        I took the time to post a comment on here and for no reason what-so-ever it went straight to the moderators who decided not to allow the post for no good reason at all.
        The post was on topic and not abusive in any way. There was NO reason to not allow the post to be displayed.

        I mentioned nothing at all about a ‘site agenda’ so the fact the you mention it make me suspicious there is one.

        • “I took the time to post a comment on here and for no reason what-so-ever it went straight to the moderators who decided not to allow the post for no good reason at all. ”

          Alternatively, your comment was automatically held in moderation, as explained in the comments policy. It was then possibly deleted as we get several hundreds of comments per day and cannot guarantee that every one held in moderation is correctly moderated. If you want to provide a salary for somebody to be paid to sit and moderate comments 24 hours a day, feel free.

          • Thank you.

            “cannot guarantee that every one held in moderation is correctly moderated.”

            This is now a reasonable explanation and all i would have asked for to start with.

        • When comments are flagged, they are then held in moderation queue. Apologies we don’t employ somebody to simply moderate comments 24 hours a a day. Feel free to raise the money to pay someone to do that.

          • Are you sure your a moderator ;-)
            If a comment is awaiting approvel it says that and it gets put up when someone as viewed it
            When as a comment that as ever been flagged got looked at and put back up

  4. iwould sell skretel(error prone,doesnt communicate), kolo (Unfortunately age not on his side),wisdom(Not good enough),illori (Not good enough)lovren(inconsistant,hv an error in him),moreno(BRAINLESS),lucas(too slow n sideways),bogdan.

    Keep: sakho,gomez,smith,flanagan,clyne,matip,caulker,
    can,allen.mignolet,ward

    Buy:
    GK:Butland
    LB-Ricardo Rodríguez,
    CB-Nicolas sule/shawcross,
    DM-wilhiam carvalho, xakha

  5. we have to buy either handanovic or jasper or someother top class goalie i feel horn is not a big upgrade on migs

  6. I’m sorry we don’t need a new Cb. Sakho,matiplovrengomezis enough. If we keep toure then it’s great but if we don’t then I’d keep skrtel as well. Sell ilori and wisdom never really LFC quality. We have more glaring issues in the team to fix ATM and Cb is the least of our worries.

  7. Having just brought in Matip, the priority has to be a keeper over another defender. That will definitely give us more bang for our buck – firstly, adding an extra 10-15 points next season, secondly, increasing the confidence of our back four (whoever they may be). If we can buy 4 quality players – A keeper, LB, CM and a winger – it wouldn’t be optimistic for a top 4 finish, regardless of what the other clubs are buying in.

  8. Another clear out this season?
    NO
    We don’t need to rebuild we need 2-3 top class players in our team.We have done enough ‘rebuilding’ in the last 7 years for a lifetime.

      • Exactly. We need three facilitators to bring out the best in what we’ve already got. Continuity cannot be underestimated.

    • and how much is that gonna cost 120mil ish? Who’s gonna spend that, if your answer is Klopp, that will be the biggest joke.

    • Gk, left back, DM, winger.

      4 players and a bit of a clear out for players who aren’t needed or valued

    • @DeadlyRed, I have said the same on another article here that says ” 7-In and 7- Out” or something like that. 2 or 3 Quality at a max for me. CF, GK, CB or whatever, just quality over quantity good people! Now this is what I personally wanna hear.

  9. We need a really solid LB. Basically Clyne but left footed. Moreno has a lot to learn and I think we should keep him but he needs to learn how to defend. If Wolfsburg don’t get European football and we do, I’d like to see us go for Rodriguez. Yes I know he will be expensive and other teams will be after him but would be worth trying. Plus his set pieces are better than anything we have at the moment.

  10. GK – New GK, Mignolet
    CB – Lovren, Sakho, Matip, Skrtel, Gomez
    RB – Clyne, Flanagan
    LB – New LB, Moreno
    CDM – New CDM, Lucas
    CM – Henderson, Can, Milner, Allen
    CAM – Coutinho, Lallana
    LW – New LW
    RW – Markovic
    ST – Firmino, Sturridge, Origi, Ings

    4 new Signings GK, LB, CDM, LW/RW

    • I agree aside from the new LW. I actually don’t think we need another attacker this summer. A front four of Firmino, Coutinho, Lallana and Sturridge is definitely good enough. Markovic, Ings and Origi are good replacements.

      Having said that, I’m less and less enthused by Ibe. I wouldn’t mind him going out on loan and maybe a different option brought in.

      Not spending a significant amount of money on an attacking option (i.e Gotze) allows us to achieve higher quality replacements in midfield and goalkeeper.

      • We need a winger even klopp said it … Ibe is trash marko is not exactly consistent so we need a winger with goals and free kick ability

          • They are all overrated average players. We are looking to build a strong team, not buy, access, then start complaining about mediocrity again. I know Klopp wouldn’t go for them anyways, he has an eye for perfect players.

          • That’s why he has scouted xhaka 3 times?!

            I’m guessing you have never watched the kid more than once?! He ripped United to shreds with basel and shaquiri and he’s only 22 now…

    • For a club like LFC you really think that we should go through next season, with just Clyne and Flanno as our only right back? you must be loosing your marbles.

      • Joe gomez can cover there and as can milner.

        Normal teams only have 2 full backs for each side. Not fifa

        • He has this crazy idea that the best right back in the league is not good enough for LFC. Probably the last position in the team I’d look to strengthen currently!

          • Yeah Clyne has been beyond consistent then we have Flano and then Joe Gomez! Yet we need more?!

  11. GK: Mignolet, Ward, Butland/Foster/Horn
    LB: New/Smith, Moreno
    CB: Lovren, Sakho, Matip, Gomez
    RB: Clyne, Flanagan
    CDM: Can, Xhaka
    CM: Henderson, Grujic,
    CAM: Lallana, Firminho, Coutinho
    W: Markovic, Ibe
    ST: Sturridge, Origi, Ings

    New:
    GK
    LB
    CDM

  12. Apart from a goal keeper I think one of our biggest requirements is a top quality defensive midfielder, with that in mind I think we should buy another first choice centre back we can pair with Lovren and/or Sakho..
    The rationale behind that being we could play Matip as DM, it’s not totally off the wall, he’s played there before and apparently it’s his favourite position. It’s just an option and purely my own opinion..

  13. I think maybe Klopp could try converting Moreno into an orthodox left winger, he’s got a lot of pace, a fierce shot like Riise, crossing has to be improved on, but defensively lacking. I genuinely think Moreno could be a good forward asset if they take defending out of his primary job scope. We’ve seen Bale make that transition before, and Benitez used to play Riise in left midfield with Traore at LB

    • I wish you wouldn’t make that Bale comparison, Moreno is nothing more than a speedboat with the attention span bordering on Glen Johnson levels.

      His crossing is as suspect as his defending and his end product leaves a lot to be desired. That shot that hit the post happens once in a blue moon. If as I suspect Klopp brings Hector in, then Moreno will make a decent back up or be moved on.

      I want a specialist in such an important area and if we pushed the boat on Yarmalenko, he will not only hit double figures in the scoring area, but more than likely the assists one as well.

    • I have to agree with what one of them was saying about Lucas…it would be like playing Carrick in that position…seems to work fine for the odd game but there’s no guarantees of him being able to play there regularly with all the challenges there are to being a center back. We’d be losing out on aerial challenges on account of his height for one.

  14. Wow! These guys are pretty harsh on our current defense..not sure if they’re just that or we’re too soft in our analysis of our current defensive options. I agree that our defense overall hasn’t been consistent this season but what seems to be the problem with players like Toure and Lovren? Skrtel seems a unanimous sell, Toure pretty much sell as well since listening to offers means don’t extend the contract. I don’t quite understand what he’s done wrong this season when called upon – thought he looked quite solid and a leader at the back when called upon.

    • Toure has truely impressed but the point is age is a factor and he’s not the type to be relied on for long term project.

      • Forget long term project…how about one more year as a 4th choice option alongside Gomez? He wages aren’t that high, he provides experience and is willing to be on the bench for most of the season if need be and is a great character to have all around in the squad.

          • On lesser wages…maybe the manager prefers Kolo over Skrtel because Kolo has no problems being 4th choice…he was ok with it all this time after all. Either one or both of them have to go eventually. Remains to be seen who that is.

    • I’m confused about the new DM thing too. We’ve looked best this season with Hendo and Can dovetailing between defensive and attacking duties in a 4231. Another midfielder with a similar skill set seems a better idea to my mind (although these players are rare these days and we’re actually lucky to have 2 such good box to box players). We can keep Lucas for DM duties when we want to play 433 and as emergency centre back cover.

      • Yeah DM can mean a lot of things these days…destroyers are definitely not too frequent these days. Normally it is just anyone who’s the deepest lying MF in 4-3-3 or the 1 in 4-1-4-1. I could be wrong on this but I think Can often takes up that deep MF position these days while Hendo drives forward.

        Can and Hendo seem like the best options for Klopp – so adding competition/cover to those positions would be a good thing.

  15. Guardiola has met with Gundogan’s father in Amsterdam for a deal in the summer to City, so to whoever is thinking about him just forget about it, plus Toure is probably leaving, so it makes sense.

  16. Lovren has been more consistent than sakho this season, yet it’s crazy how biased some of the roundtable are against him.

    Glad to see the tradition of circle jerking over a bit of sakhos sweat is still carrying on.

    Soggy biscuit anyone?
    Poor skrtel eh, dirt on your shoe.

    Kolo has been an absolute rock in our defence. He’s added leadership and stability when called upon. He may not be able to play every game but he is a the model professional who is fine being 4th choice.

    Why were we discussing Gomez going?

      • And my why are we discussing Gomez comment follows on from this, he’s not going anywhere.

        Nuance and semantics, I’m not literally asking why we are discussing it

    • Well agree on Toure, certainly a leader and all-round nice guy, but Skrtel just isn’t good enough and has been a liability for years. Under Rodgers our dfenc was shambolic, partly systematic yes, but also not helped by having Skrtel and Mignolet as ever-presents.

    • “”Glad to see the tradition of circle jerking over a bit of sakhos sweat is still carrying on.

      Soggy biscuit anyone?

      Poor skrtel eh, dirt on your shoe””

      If I was ever gonna be allowed to re-post this a 100 times, I WOULD! But this will upset the apple cart! Right on point there @disqus_9AlcH5c048:disqus

  17. Lovren has been outstanding so along with Matip, Sahko, Ilori and Gomez then I can’t see a reason to spend resources on another player. If Lucas goes then we need a new DM, would probably be a good idea anyways but who do you buy? Kante and Kouyate have been fantastic this season. Otherwise Gotze, Ter Stegen and Draxler for the big ticket buys.

  18. Y’know we all talk about signing players. But look at Leicester City. Sometimes challenging for the title is just down to having two lads who are banging them in 15-20 goals a season each, and with decent defending too, of course. I think Firmino will do all the rage next season. The problem is he can’t shine alongside Sturridge. Danny is quite selfish, he is not really Klopp’s type of player , and you can’t count on his fitness. In all of England, it’s only Kane and Vardy who can fire a team to the title. But I think our midfield is totally OK, although we probably need a good defensive mid to help the defense. We definitely need to fix the defense and part of that is to get a midfielder who can help shoulder the burden. A good holding MF can contribute much to defending without having to buy a new central defender. Anyway, the fullbacks are fine, IMO. Moreno is perhaps rash and prone to make mistake, but he got an eye for goals. Don’t think we need a new keeper; a top keeper is like a luxury for a very top team. When Man City rebuilt the team, the one place into which they didn’t pour their oil money was the goal. In sum, we don’t really need to spend that much. I don’t believe in splashing money anymore. Both Wenger and Klopp were right: there is less talent in the world than there is money.

  19. I would be happy with the following squad with a new goalkeeper and a preferred formation of 4-4-2 diamond:

    GK: A N Other, Ward
    RB: Clyne, Flanagan
    LB: Moreno, Smith
    CB: Lovren, Matip, Sahko, Illori, Gomez
    DM: Can, Stewart
    MD: Henderson, Grujic, Chirivella
    AM: Coutinho, Brannagan
    LM: Lallana, Markovic, Ojo
    RM: Milner, Ibe, Kent
    FW: Sturridge, Firmino, Ings, Origi

    Departing: Mignolet (£5-10m), Bogdan, Enrique (free), Caulker (loan terminated), Skrtel (£5-10m), Toure(free), Wisdom (£5m), Allen (£5-10m), Luis Alberto (£5-10m), Lucas (£5m), Balotelli (£5-10m), Benteke (£15-20m), Sinclair

    • Can’t say I disagree with too much there.

      Though I do think 5 mill for Wisdom would be very, very generous.

      Personally I wouldn’t be opposed to adding Henderson, Milner and Lallana to the transfers out either, tranfer fees permitting.

  20. Our defensive record in the last 6 years has always been atrocious and the one common denominator is Skrtel, who has never convinced in that role.

    The amount of times I’ve pulled my hair out seeing him back off players thus allowing them to shoot is one too many, hence why I have no hair left.

    • wait, so our defence has been atrocious in the 2007/08 season, and the 08/09 season, where we conceded less than 30 goals? the 09/10 season where we conceded 35? all seasons where skrtel played in? and the 11-12 season where we had the joint 3rd best defence in the league, also the season skrtel was arguably one of the best cbs in the league? only last 2 seasons our defence has been atrocious, and i think thats mostly due to a poor keeper in mignolet, i dont think skrtel has much to do with it, if u look at the stats for the last few seasons, skrtel has been our best cb

      • Hyppia left in 2009 and we haven’t had a commanding CB since he left. Can you honestly say he has come on since then?

        On the whole our defence has been pretty woeful and he has never had a sustained period where he has been that Commanding CB we thought we had bought.

        Now Migs, that’s a whole different story entirely. He should never have been a Liverpool player in the first place.

        • i recall skrtel putting in man of the match performances against everton and united in his first season, and during the 07/08 and 08/09 season skrtel started more than agger, agger only playing 5 league games in the 07/08 season. its illogical to completely negate skrtels contribution in those seasons. esp when he won player of the year. and every defence needs a good keeper, hence my comment on mignolet. skrtel has started to look dodgy ever since rodgers came, esp in the first season, but to be honest so has lovren and sakho (under rodgers). even then skrtel had good periods under rodgers, i agree he prob shouldnt be a starter anymore and is past his best, but to say hes been nothing but a liability throughout his time here is unfair

      • Skrtel wasn’t a first choice regular in most those seasons you mention, it was Carragher and Hyypia.

        07/08 – when Skrtel started 19 games
        08/09 – Skrtel started 29 games
        09/10 – Skrtel started 23 games

        He was a regular though in Rodgers’ first season – up until he was so bad at Southampton away that he was binned off for the rest of the season for a soon to be retiring Carragher.

        • 07/08: dont forget he came in january that season, he started nearly every came he could, also i recall he put in motm performances vs united and in the derby
          08/09: since when is 29 games not a regular? keep in mind he had a long term injury, so whenever he was fit he started most games
          09/10: had an even longer injury lay off, again when fit he started most games.
          /I dont think hes the best centre half ever but god u paint him in such a bad light. hes been a good centre back for us and u make him seem like hes djimi traore 2.0
          i agree he was really bad in the 12/13 season

  21. The poll is a strange one. In reality it’s all about opportunity. If a world class CB becomes available and wants to join Liverpool the of course we should go for him. If not, then there are bigger priorities (GK, LB, DM|, Winger, ST)

  22. I know he’s not been playing much but I’d permanently sign Caulker and move ilori, skrtel, wisdom and kolo on.
    It would help with the English player quota and I think he’d be happy being 4th or 5th choice, depending how fit Gomez is after his injury.

    • Our English quota is fine with most of the youngsters replacing those who are leaving. Caulker will be let go and replaced by Gomez.

    • Bad idea…not only is he not getting any game time at the moment but we’d have to buy him outright which would likely be another 10mil. Why would we waste that kind of money when we have enough English players already?

  23. Don’t understand why we don’t see Ilori as someone we might keep around. Most cultured centre back in the team.

  24. Watched Matlip the other night – he was awful. Shied away from crosses and floated around the action. Was shocked by how lethargic get looked. Good height but looks a touch frail. I think Lovren is our best CB. Also think Lucas could be more than just an emergency back-up at this position.

  25. We need to clear out a hell of a lot of players. We’ve the largest senior squad in the league (32) mainly due to our poor transfer record.
    No premier league team needs a squad that size. Spurs have been excellent this season with just 22.
    We could clear out 10-12 easily and just bring in proven quality at goalkeeper, left back, winger.
    Not forgetting Matip grujic & markovic are to be added too.
    That would still leave us a very large squad (28) so get good loans for ibe ojo rossiter illori smith & chivarella to allow them play

    • That’s our problem.. Best teams have 11-13 very good players, and 5-7 backup players.. We have 4-5 very good players and 25 average..

    • He didn’t have to rotate as much in Germany…they have only 34 league games, only one donestic cup (with fewer teams), and a month-long winter break. These factors can not be underestimated, just as they can’t when examining Leicester’s success this season. At the end of the year, they will have played 43 matches…40 being the absolute minimum for any top-flight club. We will have played 58 at the very least…if we finish off Utd, then that climbs to 60, and so on.

      • I take your point completely regarding Germany and the rotation but i still think our squad is oversized. Tottenham have 22 and played a similar amount of games to us. City have played more and have a squad of 23. Without even considering the wage bill, the surplus of average senior players we have are only blocking our good youth players. I cant help but think Ojo, Chivarella, Rossiter etc might have been more involved in a smaller set-up like Spurs. Im just not a great believer in squad rotation. The best example i suppose for liverpool is the football Rodgers side played in 2014 using mainly the same 13-14 players.

        • But didn’t we only use that few players in ’13-14 because we got knocked out of both cups early and had no Europe?

          I’d also take quality over quantity, but a fairly large squad (or a remarkable injury record) is pretty necessary in England these days if you want sustained success

          • That is true about 2014 and i do take your point about that and injuries. Spurs probably wouldnt have been able to deal with an injury crisis like we had this season. But we could still have a very large squad of 27 if it was made up of say our best 15 senior players (inclusive of some new signings) supplemented by Ward Smith Illori Gomez Chivarella Rossiter Grujic Brannagan Ojo Ibe Canos Sinclair. I suppose we have to see what klopp does this summer but i definitely wouldnt be against a dortmund style cull of deadwood in our squad.

        • That’s probably why they got tonked by Dortmund…

          As long as we can manage, there should not be a magical number to the squad size. English teams played the most games compared to their counterparts in Europe. If a team is challenging in 4 fronts, a bigger squad is needed to cope with injuries, fatigue, etc.

          I cannot imagine how Spurs will go without Kane, Eriksen, Vertonghen and Alderweireld for long period of time.

      • The flip side of the winter break is that the games have to be played in a shorter time frame, which could be used as a different excuse. Besides, the League Cup and a portion of the Europa League group stages are predominantly used to experiment with the squad. LFC may well have a massive number of games this season, but the players within the squad aren’t carrying a massive load compared to at other top clubs

        • Not really, German top flight plays 34 games. 4 fewer games = about 1 month worth of matches, so they are played in the same time frame.

    • Spot on. People are obsessed with depth, but the most important thing is having a balanced, high quality first XI. Thing is, beyond 14-15 players it is very difficult to keep real quality, because they want to play. Look at the Barcelona roaster – excellent first XI, and then pretty ordinary. Apart from Turan, Vermaelen and Ter Stegen they’re mostly stocked with academy prospects.

      On top of draining resources and blocking development of the kids, a large squad like we have now just takes the focus away. It’s a mess.
      The target should be a strong first XI, then a decent second XI for backup and rotation and third a strong U21 setup with young players ready to come in and do a job whenever necessary – and not to forget start learning to win stuff at that level.

      Finally, every season there’s going to be a minimum of £50M gross for transfers, of which the bulk should go towards 1 or 2 high quality targeted signings that will immediately strengthen the first XI.

    • Clear out then “REBUILD”? Come one. Have faith. Add quality (2-3), and a full pre-season. That’s all for me. Not a fan of this massive clear out, and buying of a new first team!

      • Im not in favour of buying a new first team at all!! If you read the post Im against that too. Im saying the squad is too big and theres too many average players blocking the progress of our good young players. We could ship out 10 of these average players, bring in 3 good players like you say (LB GK WG for me) and then promote the good young players we have. We’d still have a large squad by PL standards

  26. Skrtel by the most reckless defender we have in squad and hasn’t warranted a place in the team for 2 years or more. Instead of selling Agger Liverpool should have let Skrtel go.

  27. Can’t wait for the Summer (even though we still have a decent chance of making the top 4 and in the Europa League).

    It’ll be when Klopp really starts to assert his authority on the team.

    Hopefully players like Allen, Benteke, etc have decent EURO 2016 tournaments so we can maximise the money we sell them for (though not looking promising for Benteke given Wilmot’s comments today).

    I’m sure given the recent debacles of Balotelli, Benteke, etc and his relative stature in the game, that Klopp will be given a much freer reign over transfers than Bodgers was.

    I certainly expect an end to the toxic Bodgers’ Pick vs. TC Pick mentality of the past few years.

    But we definitely need:

    GK, LB, DM, Wingers / Wide Midfielders.

    I know loads of people have picked out young (mostly German) keepers but I would rather see us pick up someone more experienced.

    Navas at Real could be a possibility assuming that they sign DDG, and he isn’t part of that deal.

    For DM, we need a Makelele type, out midfielders are far too feeble.

    William Carvalho could be a great signing, but perhaps a long shot.

    Luis Gustavo of Wolfsburg could be a cheaper, more realistic option. He’d have the supposed benefit of already having played in the EPL too.

    Wide players are the biggest problem imo.

    If Klopp sticks with Benteke, then really we have to bring at least 1, maybe 2 in (part of the reason I hope we move him on).

    If not, and we get a more mobile striker, maybe we won’t any – especially if Markovic comes back and Klopp can find a way to utilise him.

    For LB, we at least need someone to compete with Moreno, make him up his game. Jetro Willems is quick and strong but does play in the Dutch league so it’s difficult to ascertain how good he really is defensively.

  28. Nathaniel Clyne has been our best player this season by a long way and the best right back I’ve seen at LFC in a long time, certainly the best since Rob Jones and he’s even better than him. Flanno is a great back and hopefully he’ll move to centre back at some point where I think Flanno will shine, but this comment is about Nathanial Clyne, he’s been terrific all season and there is no doubt he’s been our best and most consistent player.

    Well done Nathanial.

      • Total rubbish, Flanno is 5’11 … Mascherano is a centre back and is terrific and he’s only 5’8! One of Italy’s best ever centre backs Franco Baresi was 5’9! Ramos at Real Madrid is one inch taller than Flanno at 6 foot. Franz Beckenbauer one of the greatest ever is 5′ 11 the same as Flanno. Bobby Moore was one inch taller than Flanno at 6 foot. Carragher is 6 foot one inch taller than Flanno. Fabio Cannavaro world cup winning captain for Italy in 2006 is 5’9!!

        Do you want me to go on??? There are hundreds more!

        It’s not entirely about height, it’s about skill, and understanding of the position, Flanno could easily play centre back in the future!!!!

        Flanno too short for centre back! you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

          • Still a bit short for a CB. You notice I said a bit short, not too short.
            Probably should chill a little

          • No Flanno is not too short to be a centre back, what part of that don’t you understand??? I’ve just given you a list of very well known world class centre backs who are either shorter than Flanno, the same height, or one inch taller! Do you need ANOTHER lengthy list to understand?? Or is it that you can’t admit you are wrong!! Flanno is easily tall enough to be a centre back, that is a FACT!

  29. timo horn for bogdan
    mignolet

    mantip for toure
    lovren
    shako
    ilori
    skertel – 1 more year

    flanagan
    gomez
    clyne
    moreno
    hector for enrique

    steward
    xhaka for lucas

    emre can
    henderson
    grujic for allen
    teixiera

    gotze for milner
    lallana
    markovic
    cautinho
    firminho
    ibe

    ings
    origi
    aubameyang for benteke
    sturridge

    100 million from owner and ++ from benteke,allen,lucas,balotelli and another loaned. and we have around 150-170 million

  30. First and foremost a top class GK will be needed if we really want to push for silverware. Mignolet is a great shot stopper but lacks in many other areas to have him be our unquestionable #1. LB is also an issue with Moreno lacking concentration at times and a true DM to let lose Can to go box to box. What we are also lacking is a deadball specialist. It’s ridiculous that we never trouble the opposing team from corners or set pieces.

  31. As with every summer there are players who’s contracts expire, have gotten a little older, what a fresh challenge etc. If we are serious about having a crack at the title or the top four or a serious cup then we need to change something, we’ve come close before which proves the point that on the whole the squads ok it just needs some top class additions.

    Strkel is not the answer, sell, it’s time to move on. Not getting any younger, isn’t the quality we need moving forward. In my opinion became first choice by default because others retired or where sold. I’ve never been a fan of loverns to be honest, if someone wanted him Id move him on, he’s had a resurgence in form but look at how bad it gets when he’s not on form, to much of a swing in consistency for me. Matlip, probably squad improver, if there is a really decent CB out there who wants to be part of the revolution then Id have a run at them, played next sahko, or matlip, gomez in the squad and like I said I’d have another CB or lovern next season. What about Ryan shawcross? I’m very disappointed in Caulker I hoped he would be good. But never mind.

    LB, need a more defensive option to Moreno, klopp likes his swashbuckling attacking fullbacks but as Spurs have shown having 2 different options that can be rolled out in game or for a specific game isn’t silly. If there’s a winger who has the beating of moreno then role on a defensive LB. RB, clyne, flanagan, no one is complaining there!

    DM, are we playing a DM next season? 4-2-3-1, surely it’s Can and Hendo in the middle. Prehaps a squad upgrade on Allen, maybe a more defensive minded CM wouldn’t be an issue, would give us a 4-3-3 option if needed to counter a specific threat like Ozil or silva. I think we need options to be at our best, otherwise we won’t be 15 points clear at Christmas……….

  32. Saying that, we should not get carried away. As was the case under Rodgers, Liverpool still look vulnerable at set pieces, in particular when defending the second ball, and it was not that long ago that they were conceding three against Arsenal, four against Norwich and two against Leicester and Sunderland.

    And who was the only centerback to play in all these games ?

  33. All I can say is that I am glad you guys are not in charge of Liverpool. I will be very surprised if there is a mass clear out and of the current first team regulars, I think Toure and Allen along with some youngsters and fringe players will leave and Klopp will add and strengthen as he sees fit, hopefully a world class keeper is among the players coming in.

    • Not sure anyone suggested a mass clear out? Big difference between being asked specifically “who you would be determined to keep” – and not many of our defenders have proven good enough consistently enough to fit into that category.

      • Harsh on Skertal he’s been a good servant for a long time and played when Migs was having a Mare and the rest not much better. He deserves to be given a chance in a settled side comfortable with Klopps demands, for at least another year. That you rate Toure better is very surprising and would rather keep him again somewhat baffling. Allen on the other hand you want to keep? Sorry not good enough, too small to have a physical presence and not skillful enough to be a creative spark. Yes he has been playing well lately, but with Henderson and Milner in the squad we need better creativity, he will be sold in my opinion. With Matip, Shako, Skertal, Lovren and Gomez we have enough cover at CB especially with Lucas there as well. In fact he played better than Toure when they were partnered last I would rather see the extra funds go toward a top class Keeper. That rather than the CB’s is the major problem. Plus another left back so Moreno can rest.

  34. I doubt that there will major changes – in that 5 or 6 newcomers to the starting XI will walk into the team. Unlikely to happen.

    I see perhaps only three more signings of which only one of those could be a guaranteed starter.

  35. “leader” – you must be joking yeah? He’s far from a leader.

    You’d keep someone on 100k as FOURTH choice. Wow.

    Oh and if he scored 7 goals 1 season out of 10 then that’s a reason in his favour?!

    • I dont think anyone can become the captain of a national team – even the Slovakian national team (tbh – i dont know much about them). As for his wage – sure its a bit high and hopefully can be negotiated lower but I would rather have him as 4th choice than the club waste millions in buying a new player who hasnt played in the premier league before – btw going by our injury record I have little doubt that the 4th choice CB is prbably going to play as many games as the 1st choice. The club needs to spend its money on more important positions than a 4th choice CB – a new GK, a new LB, a new CM, a winger to replace Ibe and a striker to replace Benteke.

      I understand that Gomez is an exciting prospect but I dont understand is why people would rather have a 18 year old kid who hasnt played football in 6 months and probably wont till start of next season over a proven CB whose loyalty to the club deserves a lot more respect than this article shows him. Gomez is new – keep him in the U21s for the first half of next season and wait for him to fully recover, develop and get used to playing Klopp’s style of football. If Gomez can reliably prove himself to be better than Skrtel in training and on the ground then perhaps sell Skrtel in the January transfer window.

  36. All of them bar Gomez at CB are not top level. It’s what happens over years and years of mediocrity setting in, people think these players are good but none of them are anywhere near like the best CB’s we’ve had in previous years, all of them are prone to mistakes and basically weak.

  37. I like him as well, but had my doubts whether he could cope physically and he did. i think Klopp did not want to throw him into a pressure situation hence his use of Lucas. I wonder if he will be here next year.

  38. It’s no good these defenders “coming good” at the end of a season when we’re nowhere near winning anything (EL final is a many a match away), so too is top4.

    Too many people forget it’s these defenders that have cost us dearly over the last few seasons. Those same people suffer from memory loss when summer rolls round, we’ve kept a few cleanys near the back of the season and then all of sudden we’re rock solid don’t mess with me laaa

    Lovren might be ok, might. Sahko on current form wouldn’t get into a top team elsewhere. Toure is old. Matip is hilariously unproven. Gomez is too young.

    Yes we need a world class defender.
    Yes we need a world class goalkeeper.

  39. More to the point, who do you think you are? You are the one constantly sniping at some mythical agenda the comments system has “I would post a comment. But it’s just a waste of time if your going to take it down for no reason.”

    As for “Find the comment, read it” – which comment? You have posted many, maybe point us in the direction of it and we’ll explain / work out why it was either held in moderation or removed. A simple process seeing as it’s an automated system.

    • Can anyone really argue with any of the points I make about him?!
      I’m usually pretty patient with players development, but this lad has been at the club for almost 2 seasons and has, so far, shown no signs of improvement at all. If he was getting better then i’d be willing to give him more time. But as it stands, he’s not developing, and he’s causing us problems.
      I’m sure he would do really well at Madrid, they seem to like their left back playing in centre midfield and not being bothered to track back.

  40. Age and potential are so over-valued in football. Despite their obvious issues, Toure has been our most reliable centre-back this season, ahead of Lucas and Lovren.

    I’ve long been a fan of Sakho, but he looks to be going the way of Skrtel in that his errors are tending to outweigh the positives for me now

  41. yes this is the perfect chance for us to offload Skrtel!!!… we should let go Kolo as well to Real Madrid!!
    Idk why r ppl skeptical with Illori and Gomez coz both of them r excellent young players!!

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