Liverpool have spent big over the summer, strengthening their squad with the likes of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique among others.
Despite Damien Comolli stating that Enrique would be their last signing, they continue to be linked with transfers for a number of other players, in particular a number of quality centre backs. So who should be Liverpool’s final summer signing?
Liverpool are a very strong defensive unit, but it seems as if the time has come to strengthen this aspect of their game. Jamie Carragher at the age of 33, isn’t getting any younger, and is reaching the twilight of his career. He still has much to offer the side, but the years when he plays 50 plus times a season are behind him. As he slowly takes a step back out of the side, Liverpool need someone to come in for the future.
Liverpool have a number of solid centre backs at the club, but it seems each has his problems. Daniel Agger arguably should be the first choice centre half, his ability on the ball is unrivalled by his defensive teammates, his quality of passing, vision and the option he provides going forwards, means he is the perfect man to be at the heart of the Liverpool defence for a long time. Unfortunately, he is exceptionally injury prone. If Liverpool can bring someone in with similar quality to Agger but who is less injury prone, then surely that has to be an option.
Last years ever present Martin Skrtel is another fighting for his place in the side. He provides a different option to Agger, he is no nonsense and gets stuck in, a safety first type of defender, which compliments Agger’s style well. However, inconsistency is Skrtel’s downfall.
Other than that Liverpool also Kyrgiakos as a back up, but he doesn’t have enough quality to be relied upon. Young Martin Kelly used to play centre back in the reserves, and he will probably move across to play there at some point in the future. Danny Wilson is another option, but he is young and inexperienced and like Kelly one for the future.
So who out of the players Liverpool have been linked with, would be the best option for them? Birmingham‘s Scott Dann is a local lad, and a Liverpool supporter, which makes his an ideal candidate for someone to build the team around. He is a tenacious and determined character, his distribution is good, and he is comfortable on the ball.
He was relegated with Birmingham last season, and it was Birmingham’s dramatic slide after Dann’s serious injury in January that said the most about his quality as a player. He may come slightly cheaper than other options with him now being a Championship player.
Another linked with the reds is Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. He marshalls Stoke‘s defense incredibly well, and steered them well clear of the drop last season. Like Dann, he is good on the floor, and strong in the air. He is a good honest player, and you know exactly what you will get with him. He has good Premier League experience, which is what you are looking for in a centre back. The stumbling block could be over his fee, with Stoke demanding a high price in this inflated market.
A cheaper option could come from the continent in Werder Bremen defensive rock Per Mertesacker. He has been one of the most consistent defenders in the Bundesliga, he is vastly experienced, and is a German international. He has one year left on his contract so could leave for a reasonable offer. The only problem potentially is his lack of pace, but the rest of his game more than makes up for that.
The final centre back Liverpool have been linked with is Bolton‘s Gary Cahill, and after his performance against QPR on the weekend, his price tag has probably jumped up again. He is an exceptionally talented player, calm and composed on the ball, and willing to get forward. He is attracting a higher price tag than the rest, but a cash plus David Ngog deal, would suit Liverpool.
So who should be Liverpools final summer signing, or do they even need one? They have options they can rotate in defense, but with worries over Carragher’s age and Agger’s fitness, as well as the relative youth and inexperience of Kelly and Wilson at this level, it is probably best for the reds to get in a quality centre back for the long term. Dann and Mertesacker are likely to come cheaper, and would both provide solid options at the back. Cahill and Shawcross are arguably more talented and would be more expensive.
If Liverpool do decide to sign one of the above mentioned players, they will know exactly what they are getting, a quality centre back, with plenty of experience, someone who is comfortable on the ball, and will be confident and calm to lead the Liverpool back line in the years ahead.
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