Liverpool Transfers: Comparing Sebastian Coates to the EPL's Top Defenders
Liverpool have concluded a good bit of business by snapping up Uruguayan prospect and Copa America star Sebastian Coates in a £7 million deal from Nacional, beating off interest from financial heavyweights such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
The deal for Coates has come as a great piece of news after Liverpool sold off Sotiris Kyriakos to German side Wolfsburg and allowed Alberto Aquilani to go on loan once more for an initial fee of £7 million to AC Milan.
To many, Sebastian Coates will be somewhat of an enigma, coming from Uruguayan side Nacional and only making his international debut for Uruguay in the Copa America earlier this year.
So what do we know about the 6'6" centre-back who, at just 20 years of age, looks set to be one of the most exciting players for Liverpool this season?
Known for his ability in the air, Coates has a knack for getting on the end of crosses from corners and putting a stop to balls into his box either in the air or along the floor. He's gifted with his feet, strong in the challenge and likes to sweep up balls from strikers and play the ball forward.
With youth comes pace and Coates certainly isn't slow and has good control of the ball at his feet, looking to bomb forward and play the ball into the midfield rather than hoofing it up into the air like others (i.e. Jamie Carragher).
So Sebastian Coates is a good player, a bargain at £7 million, which has been subsidized by the departure of other players leaving. Great business for Liverpool but just exactly how does he compare to the other top defenders in the English Premier League and how does he fit into Kenny Dalglish's back four?
Let's find out...
1. John Terry
Whether you love him or hate him, Chelsea and England captain John Terry is one of the best defenders in the League. After several years at Chelsea, he's become a bit of a pantomime villain to away fans because of his off-the-pitch exploits, but he continues to impress for every Chelsea manager.
He's a very strong leader who coordinates his back four very well and has helped Chelsea keep a fair few clean sheets over the years, doing a very good job of keeping Chelsea goalkeepers Petr Cech and Henrique Hilario out of trouble.
For all his strength and reading of the game, however, Terry is slowly losing what little pace he had to begin with and has certainly found himself out of position over the years, with no chance of getting back in time.
His greatest strength is his ability to stop opposition attacks with his superb tackling skills and sheer strength. He's also a dab hand at scoring from corners, provided he's given that perfect cross from the byline.
If Liverpool's Sebastian Coates is the centre-back who sweeps in balls and provides cover for his defensive partner, Terry is the exact opposite, preferring to rush in with English bulldog spirit.
2. Nemanja Vidic
The Manchester United Captain and Serbian would just as soon kill you as look at you.
To describe Nemanja Vidic as a no-nonsense Eastern European centre-back does not do the man enough justice, though, as he's a consistent performer and certainly one of the top defenders in the world alongside the likes of John Terry and Barcelona's Carles Puyol.
He's an all-round unit. Standing at 6'2", he's one of the tallest defenders going and displays power and presence at the back that quite frankly is unrivaled in the league.
Very strong, very tall and very good in the air, and probably only second to Wayne Rooney at the minute for his prolific goal scoring from corners—having amassed an impressive 18 goals throughout his time as a United player, all from corners and getting better at it every year.
The only downside to Vidic is, whilst he certainly isn't a slow player, his huge build often leaves him flat-footed and he is not an agile player, with players like Torres often turning him inside out during matches.
Hopefully, Sebastian Coates, with a similar tall build, won't find himself chasing shadows when he comes up against the nimbler strikers in the Premier League.
3. Michael Dawson
Tottenham Hotspurs' captain is a solid player at the back for the London club, its player of the year last season and apparently "the best English defender" that Carlos Tevez has ever played against. Not bad coming from a striker like him.
Dawson has everything you need in your locker to be a top defender in the Premier League: strength, vision, great reading of the game and the ability to organize the rest of your defense. In that respect, he's a very similar type of player to John Terry, but with added pace and less years on the clock at just 27.
Michael Dawson is the type of player Sebastian Coates could easily develop into, which is no bad thing by any stretch of th imagination, because both players have bags of potential and plenty of time ahead of them to become even better.
Right now, however, Dawson is a quality player—probably Tottenham's best, if I'm honest—and his ability to shepherd defences, no matter who they may be, was invaluable during the team's Champions League run last season and the fourth place push before that.
4. Thomas Vermaelen
Arsenal's best defender is quite frankly probably their most valued player after the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. It's just a great shame, then, how injury-prone the 25-year-old Belgian is for the club because time is on his side and he potentially has another 10 years of playing time in him.
At just six feet, he's one of the of the smaller central defenders at a top club but six feet is nothing to be laughed at, especially when he has the strength and speed to get high up in the air and stop even the best of crosses from making their way into Arsenal's box.
Being an Arsenal player as well, he's typically good with the ball at his feet and versatile in defense, being able to play left-back as well as centre-back for Arsenal, which might come in handy with the season they're set to have this year, with the departure of Clichy.
With Thomas Vermaelen, the major glaring weakness to his game is that fact that he's injury-prone, much like the rest of the Arsenal squad, and for Liverpool, they could really do without Coates being made of glass like fellow centre-back Daniel Agger.
But How Does He Compare to His Teammates?
With Sebastian Coates coming in, Liverpool now have six central defenders all in the first-team squad: Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Martin Kelly and Danny Wilson. All of which will be fighting for that starting spot in the first 11.
Martin Kelly sort of has his spot nailed, continually impressing at right-back. There's serious pressure on Glen Johnson to get back his place as first-choice right-back, especially when fans and staff are coming over to the idea that Kelly is a better overall package.
So whatever happens with Coates coming in, we have to presume Kelly is safe.
Daniel Agger is another Liverpool player we'd have to presume won't lose out, mainly because he's the best technical footballer out of all the Liverpool defenders at the minute and loves to go forward with the ball rather than kicking it to safety and losing possession.
Jamie Carragher has looked a dead certainty to start, but frankly the mistake he made at Bolton last weekend is one of many he'll make this season and do Liverpool really want that at the back when they're chasing fourth?
That's not to say Coates won't make those same mistakes whenever he first comes into the side, as there will be a period of time needed for him to settle with the pace and athleticism of the Premier League game.
However, if Coates is going to ever be a permanent fixture in the side, it will perhaps have to be Martin Skrtel who he has to prove himself against. At the moment, Skrtel is the backup player to either Carragher or Agger in the starting 11 and made his season debut last weekend coming on for Kelly at right-back.
Obviously, this isn't where we want to see our favorite Slovakian but if Coates wants to jump ahead of Skrtel in the pecking order, he may have to show the same versatility that Skrtel did last weekend.
And then of course there's Danny Wilson, the forgotten player of Liverpool's defense who last season was only really showing his talents off in Europa League games and not really making a mark in the first team. Wilson at the minute doesn't even seem to be on the radar for a starting spot in Dalglish's Liverpool defense, so Coates will have to look at the rut Wilson has found himself in and quickly look to do the opposite.
Whatever happens with Coates, all signs point to a bright future. He's young, gifted and has all the physical attributes to be a top-class defender for Liverpool.
However, he'll need drive and determination in order to break into the first team and prove himself against the Premier League top defenders.