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Why Jonas Hector Would Be a Great Summer Transfer for Liverpool

Jack Lusby@jacklusby_Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2016

Cologne's defender Jonas Hector runs with the ball during the German Bundesliga first division football match between FC Cologne vs FC Bayern Munich in Cologne, western Germany, on March 19, 2016. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050
        (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Cologne defender Jonas Hector is the latest left-back to be linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, with reports in Germany hinting at a double swoop for the Germany international and his team-mate, goalkeeper Timo Horn, and as Jurgen Klopp looks to mould his squad ahead of 2016/17, Hector would be a great signing.

According to Bild (h/t the Mirror), "Horn is believed to be considered as a step up from current goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, while Hector would challenge Alberto Moreno for his position."

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 20:  Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool on March 20, 2016 in Southampton, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Moreno's long-term role at Liverpool has come under question in recent weeks, following a number of poor performances from the Spaniard, and Hector would arrive to provide valuable competition and flesh out Klopp's ranks.

Horn and Hector are reported to be available for a combined fee of around £14 million, and with talkSPORT revealing the former's £6.5 million release clause back in November, this suggests Hector could be signed for around £7.5 million.

With the signings of Joel Matip and Marko Grujic already in place for the summer, Klopp's rebuild looks likely to continue at the end of the current campaign, and the addition of Hector would be a wise move. 

Cologne's defender Jonas Hector runs with the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Cologne vs Borussia Moenchengladbach in Cologne, western Germany on September 19, 2015. Cologne won the match 1-0.    AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLL
PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Hector's life in the German top flight began late, plying his trade with SV Auersmacher in the Oberliga Rheinland-Pfalz/Saar—Germany's fifth-tier league—as a 19-year-old in 2009/10, before making the move to Cologne's reserve side in 2010.

The left-back was promoted to the Cologne first team for the 2012/13 campaign, after registering nine assists in 30 appearances in the Regionalliga West the previous season, as Cologne II finished sixth.

Starting the season in a rotational role, Hector was initially deployed as a defensive midfielder by manager Holger Stanislawski, before establishing himself as Cologne's first-choice left-back by November, going on to make 18 league appearances in his natural position, as Stanislawski's side pushed for promotion.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - JANUARY 31:  (L) Jonas Hector of Koeln in action during the First Bundesliga match between Hamburger SV and 1. FC Koeln  at Imtech Arena on January 31, 2015 in Hamburg, Germany.  (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)
Oliver Hardt/Getty Images

It wasn't until Peter Stoger's arrival that Hector's—and Cologne's—fortunes truly improved, however, with the following campaign seeing the left-back start in all but one of his side's 2. Bundesliga games as Cologne secured promotion to the Bundesliga, losing just five times in all competitions.

Hector's performances in the Cologne back line throughout the maiden campaign in the top flight earned the left-back a call-up to Joachim Low's Germany squad in November of 2014, with the former Stuttgart manager telling the German FA's website "we want to get to know Jonas Hector better."

With 10 senior international appearances to his name, Hector is now firmly established as a fixture of German football, marking his extraordinary rise, dictated by his prodigious talent at left-back.

Cologne's defender Jonas Hector (L) vies Dortmund's defender Matthias Ginter during the German first division Bundesliga football match 1 FC Cologne vs Borussia Dortmund in Cologne, western Germany, on December 19, 2015. 

 / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ / RESTR
PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

A defensive-minded left-back, Hector is an intriguing prospect when it comes to bolstering a Premier League side, with clubs showing a predilection towards the slight, attack-happy full-back—case in point: Moreno's endurance and Javier Manquillo's muted spell on Merseyside in 2014/15.

Much like Manquillo—who began life on loan at Liverpool brightly, offering a balance to the back four, before being shunted into the periphery by Brendan Rodgers— Hector is primarily concerned with shutting down his opposing winger, averaging 2.1 successful tackles, 2.6 interceptions and three aerial duels won per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season.

Hector's aerial prowess is particularly striking, aided by his lofty 6'1" frame, with the ability to stifle long passes to the flanks a useful trait for Cologne as they negotiate the typically direct Bundesliga style of play.

Providing a detailed analysis of Hector's talents earlier in March, Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe told Marcus Speller the Cologne man was an "atypical left-back," with this defensive approach in mind:

He's 6'1", and you just don’t really expect to see this in full-backs—this is a little taller than usual. He's very tactically intelligent though, and makes up for that.

He's quite quick, considering his size, and he's been playing for Germany now as a first-choice left-back. That means he's usurped Marcel Schmelzer and Erik Durm in Joachim Low's plans.

He's probably going to start at the [2016 European Championship], he's got 10 caps already, and that's because he's tactically intelligent; because he fills into gaps and [has] got good recovery pace as well.

Interestingly, he also takes set pieces for Cologne at times, corners and free-kicks, so his delivery is valued in that team as well. So he's pretty much the all-round package.

This tactical intelligence is of vital importance to Hector's game, with B/R's Allan Jiang describing the German in 2014 as "a poor man's David Alaba."

Jonas Hector of Germany controls the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier between Scotland and Germany at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOL        (Photo credit should read Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN MACNICOL/Getty Images

As he showed in his first campaign with Cologne's reserve side, he is able to deputise in midfield, and this has aided his transition into a top-flight left-back, capable of adapting to a number of systems—much like Bayern Munich's defender-cum-midfielder—Alaba.

While defensive-minded, Hector is comfortable pushing into the attacking sector, and as Tighe noted, his delivery from the left flank has proved valuable to Stoger's Cologne side; this season, Hector has laid on three goals for his team-mates in the league, while Moreno has registered just one assist so far.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28 :  Alberto Moreno of Liverpool shrugs his shoulders during the Capital One Cup Final match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Get
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Moreno's struggle for consistency throughout 2015/16 should be a key factor in Liverpool's pursuit of Hector this summer, with the former Sevilla man lacking genuine competition in the role and, seemingly, suffering with fatigue and possible complacency.

This was compounded as the 23-year-old was caught out of position to allow Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho the space to fire beyond Simon Mignolet to open the scoring in February's League Cup final.

Speaking to Sky Sports (h/t Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo) after Liverpool's penalty-shootout defeat at Wembley Stadium, former Reds centre-back Jamie Carragher highlighted Moreno as a major problem area in Klopp's current squad, calling for the left-back to be dropped in favour of natural right-back Jon Flanagan:

The left-back has to come out of the team. This is not a one-off today in terms of the goal.

Flanagan has come back fit and has to go into the team in midweek, [Klopp] has to change the left-back.

Flanagan played left-back when they nearly won the league. He can't be worse than [Moreno].

While no doubt an impassioned response from the ex-Liverpool man, Carragher's calls to replace Moreno with the more conservative Flanagan, who has fostered cult status among supporters for his tough-tackling approach, highlight the flaws in Moreno's game.

Cologne's French forward Anthony Modeste (R) holds the ball after scoring his team's first goal next to Cologne's defender Jonas Hector during the German first division Bundesliga football match Eintracht Frankfurt vs 1FC Cologne in Frankfurt am Main, wes
DANIEL ROLAND/Getty Images

At points during his time on Merseyside, Moreno has been guilty of abandoning his defensive duties, and while he should remain a fixture under Klopp in the long term, the German requires variety in his left-back ranks.

Hector would provide this, and available for around £7.5 million this summer, would represent an inexpensive option as Klopp looks to present Moreno with genuine competition for the role.

The 25-year-old should be a no-brainer signing for Liverpool, as Klopp looks to build a successful squad ahead of 2016/17.

Statistics via Transfermarkt.co.uk and WhoScored.com.

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