Liverpool

Alberto Moreno Solves Liverpool's Long-Standing Full-Back Problem

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Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2014

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of former Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, who becomes the Reds' third incoming defensive transfer deal of the summer.

After some heavy expenditure on the likes of Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana, the reported £12 million fee (per BBC Sport) for Spain international full-back Moreno is nothing short of a steal.

Money aside, the move for Moreno is a fantastic bit of business by the club that helps solve what has been a big problem area for the side in recent seasonsfull-back.

 

Left Behind

John Arne Riise was largely excellent in his first few campaigns as a Liverpool player, switching between left-back and left midfield, but his latter seasons were filled with static, unimaginative and limited displays that Rafael Benitez continually tried to replace. Later, successive bosses Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers all brought in their own men for the position.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Aly Cissokho of Liverpool controls the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool at The Hawthorns on February 2, 2014 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonal
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Unfortunately, a succession of failed moves in the position litter the Reds' transfer history since then; Emiliano Insua, Andrea Dossena, the re-signing of Fabio Aurelio, Paul Konchesky, Jose Enrique and loan signing Aly Cissokho have all come in since 2007, and none have managed to impress beyond a handful of promising appearances—if even that, in certain cases.

In Moreno, Liverpool have spent relatively big, but they are paying for a young player who has already forced his way to the verge of the Spanish national team, winning three caps so far, and has won the Europa League. Moreno displays many great attributes vital in the modern attacking defender—and he still has a much higher ceiling for improvement.

There is more to come than Moreno has already shown, but even his accomplishments to date can compete favourably against that which the Reds have dealt with in the same position over the past few seasons.

 

Moreno

Key among Moreno's traits is his great pace and athleticism. He is a committed defender, though perhaps jumps into tackles a little too rashly at present, and those who point to him being out of position at times are merely acknowledging his former team were happy to see him attack at will.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 30:  Alberto Moreno of Spain competes for the ball with Juan Carlos Arce of Bolivia an international friendly match between Spain and Bolivia at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on May 30, 2014 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/G
David Ramos/Getty Images

There is good reason for that: Moreno is calm and cool in possession and uses the ball neatly but is always willing to race beyond the opposition back line on the overlap, providing a through-ball chance toward the penalty area from where he will look to provide a cutback or a shot on goal.

He completed more than one successful dribble per game for Sevilla in La Liga, more than any of the Reds' left-backs last term, and scored three goals—Jon Flanagan was the only one of the Reds' full-backs to score in league play in 2013-14.

Moreno can improve at both ends of the field, but his pace will get him out of some defensive situations initially, and he'll certainly fit the tactical approach of the team. This is a purchase for the future, sure, but it's also one that improves the team immeasurably and immediately.

 

Right-back

It's not just the left of defence that has caused Liverpool problems. Glen Johnson's indifferent fitness and similar form leaves a lot to be desired on the right, where the Reds have lacked competition or senior options since Alvaro Arbeloa departed. A succession of centre-backs have operated on that side without success.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool celebrates victory at the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on April 20, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Get
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

There are three younger options for Rodgers, should he wish to utilise them next term, with Ryan McLaughlin and Andre Wisdom having been out on loan and Flanagan making himself a regular starter on the left during the second half of the season.

However, the recent loan signing of Javier Manquillo is a clear indication that the Reds are looking to improve the entire defensive structure, both now and for the future, and Liverpool's full-back areas could be all-Spanish with regularity this season.

Rodgers: "Young Manquillo was fantastic. He's the type of full back I like."

— The Bib Theorists (@TheBibTheorists) August 10, 2014

Promising first Anfield outing for Javier Manquillo. Solid defensively and linking up well with Henderson going forward. #LFC

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) August 10, 2014

Even if Rodgers opts not to field two offensive full-backs, Flanagan's versatility means the Reds can put a far more solid competitor in place on the right side while Moreno attacks the left.

With Moreno, at least, supporters can be assured that at last, one side of the defence will finally have the quality and capacity for improvement that it deserves.

Statistics from WhoScored.com

Liverpool's season review for 2013-14 is available here in paperback or for Kindle.

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