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Liverpool Squad Solutions: Centre-back

As the 2019 summer window comes to a close, many fans will be disappointed with a lack of first-team signings for Liverpool.

But do the Reds really need that many signings to compete for another title?

For the first time in a very long time Liverpool’s centre of defence is genuinely one of the best in Europe.

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Most of the plaudits go to PFA Player of the Year, Virgil van Dijk, and rightly so, but it’s very narrow-minded to ignore the contributions of Matip and Gomez, lesser so Lovren because of his lack of game time.

So it’s time to complete the defensive part of the Squad Solutions series. Let’s go!

The Current Situation

Liverpool have four senior centre-backs at the club. Without doubt Liverpool’s best and most important centre-back is Virgil van Dijk, who played every Premier League game for the Reds last season. He’s simply a colossus.

Joe Gomez was the first choice partner for van Dijk before he was sidelined with an injury and the two together looked formidable. Gomez seems destined for greatness, but his only issue is his consistent injury problems.

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Cameroonian, Joel Matip, was seen as Liverpool’s fourth choice defender at the beginning of last season, but he ended it as the first choice next to van Dijk. He was absolutely brilliant and cemented himself as someone who Klopp can trust going forward.

After a stellar end to the 2017/18 season, Lovren seemed to have put his past troubles behind him, however, he became a bit-part player due to injuries and the form of the other centre-backs. Signs of his past inconsistencies and mistakes started to resurface.

Academy

Nat Phillips is the most promising academy centre-back at Liverpool and was on tour with the reds at the beginning of the 2018/19 season. However, a long term injury saw him limited in his playing time.

He has been good so far this preseason against lesser competition, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs for the rest of preseason as the opposition improves.

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The only summer signing so far the Reds, Sepp van den Berg comes with a good reputation. Yet to feature for the Reds, he has all the physical attributes to be a top defender and is highly regarded by Klopp. Whether or not he’s integrated into the first team this season remains to be seen.

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Last-ditch effort to sign another CB?

Toby Alderweireld

If Liverpool did somehow look to sign another CB on deadline day they should look no further than Tottenham and Belgium centre-back Toby Alderweireld.

He’s been one of the best defenders in the Premier League since he came to ply his trade in England.

Extremely consistent and highly regarded around Europe, he now seems set to leave Spurs. In one of the worst kept secrets in football, Alderweireld had a £25m release clause which could have been activated this summer. Now if sold he would fetch more than that.

Should Liverpool decide to sell Dejan Lovren, Alderweireld could be a more than adequate replacement for the Croatian and could allow Liverpool to rest van Dijk and still have an archetypal leader in the heart of their defence.

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Samuel Umtiti

The Barcelona centre-back looked to be on his way out of the Nou Camp as rumours gathered pace that Barca were going to sign De Ligt. However, he may be needed with the highly sort after De Ligt moving to Juventus.

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Should Barcelona decide to cash in on Umtiti it could be a great option for Klopp. Should Klopp want to rest his other centre-backs someone of Umtiti’s class would allow him to do that without any real drop off in quality.

It would also give Klopp the option of playing a balanced back three with Umtiti left of van Dijk or Matip and Gomez to the right.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Seen by many as one of the top two centre-backs in football today the Napoli star is a formidable defender.

Uncompromising in the tackle and bullish bringing the ball out of defence, he’d be the perfect partner for van Dijk and would probably walk into any team’s defence in world football.

His only drawback is how much he’d cost. Were Liverpool to decide to go all-in on Koulibaly then there’s every chance they’d further improve there already brilliant defensive statistics from last month.

Nathan Ake

Probably the least glamorous name on the list is Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake. The Dutch international is much underrated but has all the talent to reach the top.

He could be the most enticing to Klopp ahead of the names above because of his age, the fact that he’s Premier League proven and his versatility. He can play centre back as part of two or three and also left-back. He could solve two problems for Klopp.

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If magically signed a new centre-back on deadline day, who do you think would suit Liverpool’s team the best?

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