Liverpool: 5 Players Who Can Improve the Defense
The spending spree at Anfield has been relentless and impressive so far under manager Kenny Dalglish with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez arriving in January and the midfield options greatly increased this summer thanks to the new signings of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.
One area of the team that has yet to see any significant improvement yet however is Liverpool's defensive back four. Whilst possessing some quality at the back in the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson, Liverpool often find themselves lacking in defensive options.
With Carragher showing his age more and more each season, the defensive ineptitude of right-back Glen Johnson and the frailty of Daniel Agger has seen the team come up short with alternatives several times.
Then of course we have the left-back problem that is still unresolved and last season saw Paul Konchesky, John Flanagan and even Glen Johnson all playing their to varying degrees of success. However with problematic Konchesky sold to Leicester, Johnson a natural right-back and Flanagan still developing, perhaps the Reds should start to look to bolster their back four options to greatly improve their chances for the upcoming new Premier League Season.
After all, the greatest teams are all built from the back upwards. So here are five players from around the world that can all bring something to Liverpool's defence.
1. Luca Antonelli
First up is Parma's Luca Antonelli, the explosive left wing-back who can play all down the left hand side, can give Kenny Dalglish some real attacking threat if paired up with Stewart Downing to look for the overlap and swing in crosses from deep.
At only 24 he has been dubbed the next Gianluca Zambrotta (Italian World Cup winner) and has a bright future ahead of him with Serie A clubs like Inter and Juventus interested in getting his signature.
The Parma player though could be a great fit in Dalglish's Liverpool side, offering speed going forward as well as awareness in defence which the squad is currently lacking in the left-back position.
However being a similar player to Glen Johnson in terms of forward runs from deep, could leave the Reds vulnerable at the back if caught on the break. The advantages of having two skilled full-backs on either flank who love to go forward, may seem like a promising concept to Dalglish if he chooses to take a look at Antonelli.
2. Diego Godin
The strong Uruguayan teammate of new Kop striker Luis Suarez is exactly the sort of centre-back that Liverpool could do with at the back.
Diego Godin is your typical strong, tough tackling defender who's quick off the mark and has proved his quality at International and club level and at just 25 he hasn't even reached his peak.
Currently playing for Athletico Madrid in La Liga and straight from this year's Copa America, Godin has showcased his quality this year and even attracted the attentions of Premier League rivals Chelsea FC.
Godin's main asset to his team is his sheer strength and pace at the back that allows him to keep up with the quick pace of the strikers in Spanish football as well as making his presence at the back well known to anyone that troubles him.
If Liverpool went in for the strong centre-back they could easily partner him up with any one of the other regular defenders to provide a real injection of pace as well as form a potentially formidable defensive partnership—with Godin tasked to track down and stop opposition attacks whilst his defensive partner sweeps up the ball and lays it off for the midfield.
3. Alvaro Pereira
Another Uruguayan and another solution to Liverpool's left-back problem who has become heavily linked with club is the past few days. With Porto, Pereira helped his club to domestic glory in the Portuguese league and cup as well as Europa league glory as his club accomplished an impressive treble.
Pereira recently proved his abilities at international level playing as a left midfielder for Uruguay in the Copa America although his natural position is to play much deeper as a fullback with license to get forward whenever possible, whilst still remaining sturdy in his defensive responsibilities.
His ability to link play forward for club and country whilst being quick enough to track back if necessary has seen him become hot property among Europe's top clubs, with Liverpool heavily linked to wanting his signature and Porto desperate to keep their star left-back.
A player like Pereira can improve the quality of just about any team, but for a club like Liverpool with a gaping left-back problem he's an ideal fit who can provide the club flexibility down the left wing; and if he were to link up the likes of Downing, the end result could be lethal.
4. Scott Dann
Solid centre-back? Check. English? Check. Scouser? Check. Available on the cheap? Quite possibly. The Birmingham Ciy defensive stalwart and one of the reasons the club got relegated after his long lay-off in the second half of the season.
Despite that injury blighting what was an impressive season for Scott Dann, he is a strong target for the Reds this summer and for good reason too.
A similar player to Jamie Carragher—whose time as a permanent starter for Liverpool may becoming to an end—Dann may be the exact sort of player to take over the the responsibilities of the current Liverpool vice captain.
An all-rounder of a player, Dann possesses all the qualities of a top defender, and at 24 fits the transfer strategy of British players who have experience of playing in the Premier League and still have room to improve and develop.
Add in the fact that he's a Liverpool lad born and bred, and a former season ticket holder, you have all the qualities in a player that Kenny Dalglish has been drawing from in his new Liverpool initiative.
5. Nicolas Otamendi
The last player on the list, and one of the best young defenders out there in my mind, is Nicolas Otamendi. He was at the heart of Porto's defence last season when they won the treble alongside teammate and Liverpool target Alvaro Pereira.
A strong and towering centre-back at 6'0", Otamendi is skilled on the ball and just as able to play his way out of trouble or clear the ball out of touch. He's able to play all across the back four, so can act as cover for any injuries in the Liverpool squad if Kenny Dalglish decided to make a real statement of intent and get one of the most sought after young defenders in the game.
Otamendi is already a firm choice for the Argentinian national side and former manager Diego Maradona even described the 22-year-old as "world class" after one qualifying game for the 2010 World Cup in which he looked assured on and off the ball.
His skills and commitment to the national team have seen him become a permanent fixture in the Argentina squad since 2009, which has gone and helped him improve his standing in the first team for Porto.
For me personally, signing Otamendi would greatly improve the defensive deficiencies for Liverpool as he's a top player proven at the highest level of the game. Even if Liverpool didn't sign him it would still be interesting to see how well the young Argentine did in the Champions League with Porto—a competition Liverpool need to look back at qualifying for.