Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Kolo Toure Is Terrific Stopgap Target for Reds

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Kolo Toure of Manchester City is challenged by Matt Jarvis of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground on November 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The retirement of Jamie Carragher leaves a void along the Liverpool back line. Filling the spot is one of the top summer tasks for manager Brendan Rodgers. Manchester City defender Kolo Toure is an ideal target to start the process.

Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph reports Liverpool are closing in on an agreement with Toure, who's available for a free transfer after a rocky run at City. He's one of three players linked to the Reds, along with Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Tiago Ilori.

Brendan Rodgers has identified numerous targets to reinforce his central-defensive options, and Toure - available on a free transfer - is poised to have a medical at Liverpool after Manchester City's tour of the United States after next weekend.

The 32-year-old Ivory Coast international has seen his contract run out at the Etihad Stadium having rarely featured since being suspended for six months after admitting accidentally taking a banned substance in 2011.

At 32, Toure is not the long-term answer to Liverpool's questions in the center of defense. That said, he's a veteran with big-match experience that would help cover up the absence of Carragher until a younger option emerges for the Reds.

The fact it would be a free transfer, which would preserve the club's funds for other potential summer moves, is a bonus. It also limits the amount of risk because all Liverpool would have to worry about is wages should Toure struggle.

He started his career at Arsenal, where he quickly emerged as one of the most reliable center backs in the Premier League. His move to City was supposed to bolster the club's defense, but he wasn't able to rediscover top form after that 2011 suspension.

A return to full-time football would give him a chance to show he can still play at an elite level. The good news for Liverpool is that they should only need a couple of solid seasons from him before Sebastian Coates and Martin Kelly are ready to take the next step.

By adding a player like Toure, it would also give Rodgers some flexibility for the rest of the summer. He could still pursue another defender, but the need wouldn't be as pressing. The Reds must try to secure more attacking options to keep pace with the Champions League sides.

So the Toure link makes a lot of sense for Liverpool. The veteran would step right into an important role without the club having to pay a hefty transfer fee. There's a good chance he would be able to regain most of his peak form.

It shows what the Reds need to do in order to keep pace. They can't go out and spend big to fill every hole on the squad. They have to take some chances, like Toure, and hope they work out. Daniel Sturridge is a good example.

Assuming a deal gets done, Liverpool hope Toure provides a similar spark next season.