Brendan Rodgers declared that Liverpool FC could seek to acquire a left-back in January to cope with the prolonged absence of Jose Enrique. Here’s a look at 5 possible alternatives.
Liverpool FC is again on the lookout for a left-back in January, which seems to be a perennial problem for the Merseyside giants. After the horror signing and subsequent departure of one Paul Konchesky, the Reds seemed to have found some respite in Jose Enrique.
The former Newcastle United man signed for Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish in August 2011 and soon established himself as a first team regular. He turned out to be a shrewd buy and fitted into the new Brendan Rodgers system. Under Rodgers, the Spaniard became an important player providing width and energy on the left wing. What Jose lacked in pace, he made up for with his energy and strength. Jose Enrique started the new season for Liverpool despite a long persistent knee problem. Following the Fulham game, he underwent a knee surgery as the problem flared up again and will now only return to Melwood in February. With him out for up to ten weeks and on loan Aly Cissokho not really performing at the level needed in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers’ Christmas shopping list will have potential left-back replacements at top priority.
Here we take a look at the potential replacements:
1) Ryan Bertrand
After a failed bid for the Chelsea full back in the summer window, Ryan Bertrand is likely to figure on top of the Liverpool replacement list for Jose Enrique. Bertrand and Chelsea rejected a bid from Rodgers in the summer with the 24 year old eyeing an increase in first team chances at Stamford bridge. The English full back has failed to make it to the first team in Chelsea even after Ashley Cole’s rib injury with Jose Mourinho moving right-back Cesar Azpilicueta over to the left flank. Rodgers is familiar with Bertrand’s playing style from his time as the Chelsea reserves coach and is willing to offer him first team football ahead of the Brazil 2014 world cup. Chelsea on the other hand seem to be tentative about Liverpool’s approach with the tensions among the Blues faithful still prevalent following the transfer of Daniel Sturridge and his subsequent stellar performances at Anfield.
2) Martin Montoya
Straight from Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’, this two footed full-back is a dream prospect. He has got pace, precision, tricky feet and can strike the ball from well out. The icing on the cake for Liverpool fans would be the youngster’s dribbling. The full-back who can play both sides of the flank has been one of the most talked about youngsters in Spain. Last season Montoya made 15 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga and even scored once. His pass rate was ever so impressive at a high 92%. This season he has 5 La liga appearances to his name, along with an assist to his name. His passing accuracy diminished a bit to 83%, probably due to a lack of regular first team action. With Montoya, Liverpool will have cover for both the full-back positions and he can walk into the vacant left-back position right away. It was recently rumored that Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre was in Barcelona for talks about a potential transfer. If Liverpool get him they would’ve solved a big problem in the squad depth area.
3) Alex Sandro
FC Porto’s Brazilian left-back Alex Sandro is undoubtedly a package of talent, energy and drive which will suit Rodgers’ system perfectly. Sandro is said to be targeted by more than one Italian club, though Liverpool’s reported interest can ward off other clubs. The player who will probably be Marcelo’s replacement in the Brazilian national team can be had at a price of around €15 million.
The 22-year old Porto star is a quality passer which the Reds have lacked for some time since the departure of John Arne Riise. Sandro established a passing accuracy of 74% of which 57.1% were key passes. Sandro’s defensive accomplishments are just as impressive, winning 80% of aerial duels and 75 % tackle success rate which out-shadows both Cissokho and Enrique. Alex Sandro could well be the missing piece in the Liverpool’s system. If Rodgers decides to splurge on this youngster he could well cement that left-back niggle of Liverpool for years to come.
4) Ricardo Rodriguez
Keeping in mind Liverpool’s tradition of playing attack minded full backs, Wolfsburg’s 21 year old left back Ricardo Rodriguez may very well fit the bill for Brendan Rodgers this January. After an impressive 2012-13 season Rodriguez seems to have taken his game to another level this season playing every minute for his club who are currently enjoying a sunny spell at the top end of the Bundesliga table.
The 21-year old Swiss defender is a rock at the back having won 110 aerial duels in total and winning 83% of his tackles. He could be the remedy to Liverpool’s set-piece trauma. Ricardo also has an impressive left-foot firing in crosses frequently; he created 21 chances in 12 games so far for the German club. Rodriguez already has 17 international caps which is testimony to his temperament and he can only improve as he matures with age. If Rodgers decides to go for Ricardo who is likely to be available for around €10 million, Liverpool may very well have found their Glen Johnson of the left wing.
5) Jon Flanagan
Liverpool might just have a star in their own backyard to fill in for that coveted left-back position. Steven Gerrard hailing him as the next Jamie Carragher is enough testimony for the abundance of talent in this kid. A naturally right sided player, 20-year old Flanagan, was the standout performer for the Reds in the recent Merseyside derby. Speaking after the match, the Liverpool captain had this to say:
“Our star man for me was Jon Flanagan by a country mile.” – Steven Gerrard
Jon Flanagan was relentless throughout the 90 minutes and proved to be a thorn in the side of Everton’s Kevin Mirallas. The uncompromising youngster, who had his first start of the season for Liverpool in the loss against Arsenal at the Emirates, came to the fore in the Merseyside derby. He won 8 of his 9 attempted tackles, 11 out 17 duels and made 6 interceptions more than anyone else. The entire Liverpool squad stood up and applauded his performance as he returned to the locker room after the game.
Whether Liverpool rely on the youngster to fill those big shoes of Enrique or they look elsewhere, only time will tell. Jon Flanagan who played with a lot of heart and desire versus Everton will have until January to prove his mettle and make that left-back position his own. Liverpool supporters will miss Enrique’s strength and determination on the left wing but most of all they will miss his uncanny ability of finding Luis Suarez in the box even from 50 yards out. ‘El Toro’ will be missed at Liverpool and Rodgers will be hoping he will come back in February and continues to please the Anfield faithful.
Meanwhile we all know what Liverpool fans are asking Santa this Christmas.