Leny Yoro and 9 other centre-backs Liverpool could sign this summer

Liverpool are set to sign a new centre-back this summer with Lille youngster Leny Yoro a known target, but who else could the club target for the position?

Having seen Joel Matip depart on the expiry of his contract, the Reds head into the transfer window one short when it comes to centre-back.

It could be argued that the squad Arne Slot has inherited only has three specialist senior options, with Joe Gomez‘s versatility seeing him play the majority of his games at full-back.

There should be no surprise, then, that centre-back is a priority position for Liverpool to fill ahead of the new campaign.

But who could be brought in to join Virgil van Dijk, Jarell Quansah and Ibrahima Konate this summer?

 

Leny Yoro (Lille)

Age: 18
Nationality: France


French teenager Yoro is the most obvious candidate, following reports that Liverpool are “actively pursuing” a deal for the breakthrough talent.

Having already played 60 times for Lille and now in the provisional France U23 squad for the Olympics, Yoro is closer to the Van Dijk mould than the front-footed style of Konate and Quansah.

It makes him an interesting candidate as long-term successor to the Liverpool captain, though a deal this summer may not be straightforward.

Real Madrid are believed to be leading the race, while Man United and Paris Saint-Germain are also credited with an interest.

 

Jean-Clair Todibo (OGC Nice)

Age: 24
Nationality: France


Another Frenchman who could be considered is Todibo, who was touted with a move to Anfield as long ago as 2018, when he himself was 18 and still with Toulouse.

Now 24, the 6’3″ defender has taken in a frustrating spell at Barcelona that saw him loaned to Schalke, Benfica and then OGC Nice, where he finally settled permanently in 2021.

Expected to leave Nice, Todibo is an front-footed centre-back who is extremely comfortable in possession, ranking in the elite percentile among his peers for passes attempted (96th), progressive passes (85th), progressive carries (83rd) and successful take-ons (96th).

As a right-sided defender, that could make him an ideal replacement for Matip, competing with an injury-prone Konate.

 

Willian Pacho (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Willian Pacho (Eintracht Frankfurt) (Image: dpa/Alamy Live News)

Age: 22
Nationality: Ecuador


Repeatedly linked in the German press, speculation over Ecuador and Frankfurt defender Pacho has “substance,” according to Merseyside journalist Neil Jones.

Whether that would result in a move is unclear, but it stands to reason why the 22-year-old Ecuador international would be considered.

Pacho is particularly dominant on the ground and is strong in possession, which suggests he could settle in quickly within the system employed by Slot.

A price tag in the region of £43 million could make the deal a feasible one.

 

Ousmane Diomande (Sporting CP)

Ousmane Diomande of Sporting CP seen during the Liga Portugal BWIN match between Sporting CP and SL Benfica at EstAdio Jose Alvalade. (Credit Image: © David Martins/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire)

Age: 20
Nationality: Ivory Coast


Another reliably reported target is Sporting CP’s Diomande, with This Is Anfield‘s David Lynch among those to confirm the club’s interest in January.

Diomande is regarded as a similar talent to Yoro, part of the new breed of elite-level centre-backs in the making, so it makes sense that Liverpool would be tracking him.

The 20-year-old is a natural right-sided centre-back, and again, is very comfortable on the ball: 94th percentile for passes attempted, 97th for pass completion, 91st for progressive passes and 80th for progressive carries.

One red flag, however, would be Diomande’s status as an Ivory Coast international, which raises the risk of losing him for periods mid-season for the Africa Cup of Nations – but it should be noted the next tournament will be held in the summer.

 

Levi Colwill (Chelsea)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) and Chelsea's Levi Colwill during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 21
Nationality: England


Following last summer’s saga, Colwill would typically not be deemed a viable option, but the fact his name has begun popping up again suggests the Englishman could be open to a move.

Having lost his place in the Chelsea side towards the end of last season, he has again been linked with a switch to Anfield, while Bayern Munich have been credited with an interest too.

Though still unlikely, signing Colwill would be a coup for Liverpool, as he is poised to break through as a stylish left centre-back and is eligible as a homegrown player.

If possible, it is a deal that those at Anfield would surely jump at.

 

Nico Schlotterbeck (Dortmund)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 7, 2023: Borussia Dortmund's Nico Schlotterbeck, almost lost in the yellow smoke, during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 24
Nationality: Germany


The first defender on this list who has not been touted with a move to Anfield, nevertheless Schlotterbeck would undoubtedly pop up in Liverpool’s search when it comes to data.

He is in the high percentile for every ball-playing metric along with tackles (93rd), interceptions (71st) and blocks (87th), having shone with Dortmund in the campaign just gone.

There is no indication that he would push to leave the Champions League finalists, but Schlotterbeck would likely be considered if available.

 

Ronald Araujo (Barcelona)

Age: 25
Nationality: Uruguay


After agreeing reduced terms on his deal in 2022, Araujo could reportedly now be sold this summer to address Barcelona’s ongoing financial issues.

If so, Liverpool should be in the conversation for a player who has been linked with the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Man United and Aston Villa.

Lightning fast and physically imposing, Araujo uses his aggression to dominate in a high line, while he is strong on the ball and, crucially, in the air too.

International team-mates with Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan would be an exciting addition to the Liverpool defensive ranks.

 

Odilon Kossounou (Bayer Leverkusen)

Age: 23
Nationality: Ivory Coast


Diomande’s fellow Ivorian, Kossounou played a role in Bayer Leverkusen’s remarkable double-winning campaign under Xabi Alonso as a progressive right centre-back.

Per Transfermarkt’s Stefan Bienkowski, however, Leverkusen are “not adverse to selling at the right price” as they feel “he wouldn’t be hard to replace.”

While that indicates that he may not be a top option for a club like Liverpool, there is evidence that Kossounou has the upside to develop within Slot’s squad.

 

David Hancko (Feyenoord)

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA - Thursday, October 10, 2019: Wales' captain Gareth Bale (L) and Slovakia's Dávid Hancko during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group E match between Slovakia and Wales at the Štadión Antona Malatinského. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 26
Nationality: Slovakia


Slot’s move from Feyenoord to Liverpool has brought a number of predictable links with his former players, including goalkeeper Justin Bijlow, defender Lutsharel Geertruida and midfielder Mats Wieffer.

Links with Hancko could be more understandable, with the new head coach having seen him develop into a leading centre-back during their time in Rotterdam.

The Slovak has played 93 times in his two seasons so far at Feyenoord, with his ability to bring the ball out of defence from his left-sided role a key outlet for the Dutch side.

Hancko’s agent has already claimed Liverpool’s interest, when speaking to TN.cz in January, and the arrival of Slot could only enhance that.

 

Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen)

DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, November 20, 2022: Ecuador's Piero Hincapié (R) and Qatar's Almoez Ali during the opening game of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A Qatar against Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium. Ecuador won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 22
Nationality: Ecuador


Hincapie could be similarly useful as Hancko, in that the Ecuadorian is capable of playing both centre-back and left-back and, therefore, would help a shift in emphasis to that side.

Still only 22, Hincapie has played 119 times for Leverkusen including 43 appearances in their triumphant season last time out, becoming a key player for Alonso.

His agent has also cited interest from Anfield, with Manuel Sierra claiming “they chose to invest in the midfield” instead last summer, before naming a price tag of at least €50 million (£42.3m).