Searching for a centre half: Five defenders for unlucky Liverpool
Holly Thackeray | January 6, 2016
Liverpool to scour continent for centre back?
Following a Capital One Cup semi-final first leg clash with Stoke City, in which the Reds lost two more rearguard enforcers in Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure to injuries, new Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp summed up his defensive dilemma perfectly.
The German gaffer told press: “This is something we have to think about. Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs, which is a good situation, and the season started with five – but now it is zero.”
Brazil midfield shield Lucas Leiva was forced into a makeshift backline, with Klopp preferring to keep silky skilled Emre Can further forward. So, with that in mind, Coral consider five shiny new centre halves for the Reds (5/4 with Coral to win the Capital One Cup) to recruit this winter window…
Kamil Glik (Torino)
Previously linked to Northwest neighbours Manchester United, it appeared Poland backline protector Glik would stay put in Piedmont as he penned a new deal with Turin team Torino just before the Italian Christmas break.
Yet, after star defensive turn Matteo Darmian was plucked away by the Mancunians for a relatively modest fee in summer, it would surely not take much more to prise Glik after a recent slump in form from the Bull.
On the bench last time out against Roma following a 4-0 Coppa Italia thrashing by local rivals Juventus, the skipper no longer seems undroppable and could be prime for a Premier League punt.
One of the most robust and reliable defenders in Serie A last season and aged 27, the time is now for the Torino marshal and set piece threat to test his considerable skill elsewhere.
Joel Matip (Schalke)
Recently mooted to join the Reds roster in January and, with around six months remaining on his Royal Blues contract, this move from regular Bundesliga also-rans Schalke makes sense.
If Klopp was contemplating, he should now move quickly for his 24-year-old compatriot, who would surely command much interest if he truly wants to leave Gelsenkirchen. At just 24, Matip would perhaps prove easier to mould into Klopp’s ideal defensive heartbeat than an older option, but already has plenty of experience at a high level to boot.
Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund)
Not a defender by trade exactly, this Bender brother is usually an anchorman, but has been tweaked by Klopp’s replacement Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund into a centre half this term, to much praise and acclaim.
Dominant displays reminiscent of Daley Blind’s transition into the heart of Man Utd’s defence have seen Bender blossoming, with arguments for the German to switch positions permanently.
Klopp would surely be keen to reunite with his former charge and, having previously believed he had more than enough back-up at centre back, Bender’s ability to also play in midfield could see him a superb short-term option for now, but a better buy due to his versatility for when the rest of his rearguard return.
Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan)
Once tipped to be the next great Italian defender, it has never quite clicked consistently (at least not to the standard expected) for Ranocchia at Inter Milan, and he looks set to finally leave Roberto Mancini’s men.
Having reportedly rejected Norwich City, the Azzurri international could have his sights set higher, and the Reds may be attracted to his vast experience. Liverpool will remember their previous Nerazzurri purchase was one Philippe Coutinho, who has proven a roaring success, and could do worse than recruiting Ranocchia, a player craving a new path, to fill gaps.
Realistically, the likes of Aymeric Laporte, Mats Hummels and Marquinhos are out of bounds and, should Klopp wish to also spend on a striker, Rannocchia would be a bargain.
Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
At the other end of the spectrum, should the Anfield outfit wish to plan for the future, with a crop of their own young players already being nurtured by Klopp, Tah is one of the Bundesliga’s brightest prospects.
About to turn 20, the bullish, strong centre back looks a fine fit for a Premier League future and, having hit the ground running since switching from Hamburg to Bayer Leverkusen, Klopp will surely already know all about this kid.
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