With right wing-back looking a problem position for Liverpool this season, Jack Lusby selects Nathaniel Clyne among five to target this summer.
Within the slight unravelling of Brendan Rodgers’ 3-4-2-1 system of late, a deficiency in the right wing-back position has emerged—an area the manager must address in the transfer market this summer.
Injury to Jordon Ibe and the on-off form of Lazar Markovic has put paid to Rodgers’ regular options in this position at present, and Raheem Sterling has looked uncomfortable as cover.
Furthermore, while Javier Manquillo and Jon Flanagan remain in the squad, and Andre Wisdom is set to return from loan for pre-season, none of these options are ideal in this particular role.
So who should Liverpool target at for the right wing-back role this summer?
Here are five potential targets for the Reds, focussing statistical analysis on a balance of defensive (tackles, interceptions) and attacking (dribbles, key passes, crosses) qualities.
The 23-year-old has consistently developed in his three seasons in the English top flight so far—so much so that Clyne is now ostensibly the England national team’s leading right-back.
Playing in Ronald Koeman’s attacking full-back system at Southampton, Clyne would be an ideal solution to Rodgers’ growing problem at right wing-back, as he is adept at both ends of the pitch.
Clyne averages 3.5 tackles and two interceptions per league game, solidifying his defensive prowess, while his average of 0.8 dribbles, 0.5 crosses and 0.6 key passes per game also highlights just how strong an attacking outlet he can be—as Liverpool found out on the opening day of the season.
With only 15 months left on his current Saints deal, Clyne will likely be hot property this summer, and Koeman’s recent suggestion that right-back is not “the most difficult position” to replace could suggest he would cash in this summer.
Clyne would likely cost Liverpool a fair amount, but would be perfect as Rodgers’ right wing-back.
Serge Aurier (Toulouse, on loan at PSG)
Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier is in an interesting position this season, on loan at Paris Saint-Germain—a club at an arguably higher level than his parent club, Toulouse.
That PSG opted for a temporary deal rather than an immediate, permanent one hints at the rigorous sanctions the Ligue 1 side is facing over Financial Fair Play ruling, and manager Laurent Blanc is able to exercise an option to buy if he wishes.
However, with Aurier playing just 10 games in the French league so far this season, it could be that he isn’t one of Blanc’s priorities this summer—if so, Rodgers must swoop in.
Of course, when Aurier has played, he has performed exceptionally.
The 22-year-old has averaged at 3.8 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game, while also making 0.9 dribbles, 0.9 crosses and 1.2 key passes on average in Ligue 1.
Aurier was near-perfect in PSG’s 2-0 November win over Marseille, making four key passes, three successful dribbles, eight successful tackles and seven interceptions—running rampant on the right side, Aurier produced the perfectly balanced wide-defensive performance.
How Gregory Van der Wiel finds himself above Aurier in the PSG pecking order is unfathomable, and Liverpool should target the latter if he becomes available in the summer.
Kieran Trippier (Burnley)
This may not be the most fashionable suggestion, but if Liverpool opt for a more frugal approach this summer—as could well be expected, given the financial level of targets that have recently been suggested—Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier would be a great signing.
The former Manchester City academy player, 24, joined the Clarets on a permanent deal in January 2012, after impressing then-manager Eddie Howe on loan in the first half of 2011/12.
Trippier has made an average of 2.3 crosses, 0.7 dribbles and 1.7 key passes per league game this season, making four assists so far in 30 games—of the Premier League’s full-back union, only Everton’s Leighton Baines has created more chances per game (2.2) than Trippier.
In defensive terms, Trippier is also a solid option, with an average of 1.8 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game this season.
A growing talent with a mean cross and a great work rate, Trippier would be a solid addition to Rodgers’ squad.
Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid are supposedly close to landing a deal for FC Porto’s high-potential right-back Danilo this summer, which is bizarre given they already have an outstanding prospect in their ranks for that position in Dani Carvajal.
However, if this opens up the prospect of Carvajal leaving Los Meringues this summer, then Liverpool should take action.
Carvajal, at 23, has made 54 appearances so far for Madrid in the last two seasons since rejoining the La Liga giants from Bayer Leverkusen.
As with most Madrid first-team players, of course, there is a sense of impermanence around Carvajal’s position—a baying, fickle fanbase and a success-hunger owner ensures this.
Very solid defensively, Carvajal has made an average of three tackles and two interceptions per game in La Liga this season, while also producing 0.3 crosses, 0.8 dribbles and one key pass per game, including two assists in 23 games.
If there is any potential in this deal, Carvajal would be perfect for Liverpool.
Martin Montoya (Barcelona)
Returning to a player who has long been linked with a move to Merseyside, Barcelona also-ran Martin Montoya was apparently “100 percent” certain to leave the Catalan club in January, according to his agent.
“Right now we just want to find the best club for Martin, so he can continue his progression,” Juan de Dios Carrasco said. “Germany, Italy and England all have clubs that are already pulling strings to sign him.”
This may be the epitomy of the term ‘agent talk,’ with no deal materialising, but Montoya remains a good option for Rodgers.
Having established himself as a squad player at Barcelona, Montoya is well-versed in the attacking demands of the right-back role in the La Liga side’s system.
However, the 23-year-old is more reticent than any of the other options provided here—he has averaged just 0.7 dribbles and 0.3 key passes and 0.2 crosses per game this season, although this could be due to his peripheral status, having played just 540 minutes.
Montoya is an accomplished defensive talent, averaging three tackles and two interceptions per league game, and given a more consistent first-team role, his output would likely develop.
Liverpool could do a lot worse than Montoya at right wing-back.
Who would make the best option for Liverpool?
Statistics via WhoScored.
Which right wing-back should Liverpool make their top priority this summer? Let us know in the comments below.