With Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno linked with a move to Liverpool this week, Jack Lusby looks at whether the Spaniard would suit a move to Anfield this summer.
The Spaniard is “is one of the rising stars of Spanish football and is likely to command a fee in excess of £15million.”
Jon Flanagan deputised to great effect on the left side of defence in the 2013/14 season, but questions marks are still raised over his long-term position in the Reds’ first team; it is likely that the local lad will remain a dominant part of Brendan Rodgers’ squad but perhaps as a squad option or on as a right-back.
Elsewhere, Jose Enrique missed the majority of the past season with a knee injury which has pushed him to the periphery somewhat—in 2013/14, the 28-year-old made only eight Premier League appearances.
Therefore, with left-back a major issue to be confronted this summer, is Moreno the man to solve Rodgers’ woes?
2013/14 Form Guide
This La Liga season was Moreno’s breakthrough season, and—having made 15 appearances for the Sevilla first-team the previous season—went on to establish himself as a regular on Unai Emery’s team sheet.
As per WhoScored.com, the 21-year-old has made 28 appearances for Sevilla this season, regularly deployed on the left hand side of defence.
Sevilla are set to face mid-table battlers Elche on Sunday and victory would seal a fifth-place finish for the Andalusian club in what has been a hugely impressive season.
Moreno has so far helped his side to six clean sheets in the league and scored three goals, as he added youthful tenacity and attacking class to his side’s defence.
Making his first start for Sevilla in February 2013, the 21-year-old secured his first cap for the Spanish national team in October of the same year; Moreno has now been included in Vincent del Bosque’s preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup, such has been his rise.
Solid performances—albeit not in the best results for his side—against Valladolid in a 2-2 draw in October, and in a 4-1 defeat at home to Barcelona in February will have caught the attentions of the Spain manager.
Furthermore, Sevilla were crowned victors of the 2013/14 Europa League this season following victory over Benfica, and with 10 appearances in that competition Moreno was vital to the cause in an impressive campaign.
With international and European credentials, Moreno would slot into the Liverpool first team with great ease.
Moreno’s strengths lie predominantly in his attacking game, and the 21-year-old exudes confidence on the ball, with great pace and dribbling skill.
As per Squawka, the Spaniard has a 52 percent take on success rate in this season’s La Liga, succeeding 33 times out of 64; Liverpool’s Flanagan has a comparable success rate of 58 percent, but the fact that he has only attempted 26 outlines the superior attacking confidence of Moreno.
Elsewhere, defensively, Moreno has proved himself to be an excellent reader of the game this season—as evidenced by the amount of times he found himself in front of Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez with the ball in the video above.
Again, as per Squawka, the Spaniard has made 2.75 interceptions per game in this season’s La Liga, placing him behind only Swansea City’s Angel Rangel (3.18) and Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara (2.87) in terms of Premier League full-backs who have played more than 10 games.
Compared to Liverpool’s full-backs this season, Moreno is outstanding in this area. Flanagan has a rate of 1.9 interceptions per game, Glen Johnson 1.75, and loanee Aly Cissokho had a rate of 1.4.
Furthermore, Moreno is a versatile option, which will likely endear him to Rodgers, and as per WhoScored, Moreno scored a goal from both the left midfield and left attacking midfield positions in 2013/14.
Unfortunately, in terms of weaknesses most of these can be found in Moreno’s defensive game.
Despite his ability to read the game well, his physical prowess lets him down somewhat, often not capable of realising the task at hand in terms of challenges made or aerial duels won.
This season, as per Squawka, Moreno has won only 41 percent of his tackles attempted, placing him behind Flanagan (46%), Johnson (56%), Cissokho (49%) and Enrique (53%) for 2013/14.
Furthermore, whilst his rate of aerial duels won, of 48 percent, is better than that of Johnson (45%) and Flanagan (46%), this is an area that could definitely be worked on under Rodgers at Liverpool.
However, with the modern full-back often tasked—more often than not—with driving forward and contributing to attacks, and Liverpool’s system of Steven Gerrard operating between the two centre-backs, Moreno’s attacking abilities may outweigh his defensive deficiencies.
How Moreno would fit in at Liverpool
Due to his attacking prowess, Moreno would fit in at Liverpool superbly, and his confidence in taking the ball past players will be an exceptional asset to the Reds’ first team as this is an area that Flanagan perhaps lacks.
Furthermore, his ability to read the game—paired with a decent work-rate—would hopefully plug any gaps in his defensive game; although, that would be an area that would need to be addressed under Rodgers.
Compared to Liverpool’s current full-back options, Moreno is definitely a more attractive prospect—signing the 21-year-old would enable Rodgers to move the flourishing Flanagan onto his more-favoured right-back role, perhaps in rotation with a returning Andre Wisdom.
The £15 million price tag may seem a little steep, however, and it would be wise for the club to consider more financially viable options before going ahead with this move—Granada’s Guilherme Siqueira and Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand are also included in the Echo’s report as targets.
However, signing a 21-year-old with European and international credentials, who has proven himself an able component in a successful side and with no doubt a great scope for development, could prove to be a savvy investment for Liverpool this summer.
Do you think signing Alberto Moreno would be the right choice for Rodgers and Liverpool? Let us know in the comments below.