Why Liverpool must scrap 31-year-old experiment and land an elite performer this summer
COMMENT By Matt Farr
One of the main items on the Liverpool agenda in the expected squad overhaul in the summer will be the defence.
Liverpool’s repeated defensive woes have left a gaping hole in their Premier League title bid, and it is an area that must be addressed by Jurgen Klopp at the earliest possibility.
The German chief has had to resort to experimental changes in an attempt to paper over the cracks, but even though he has achieved minor success, he must not consider them a long-term solution.
Klopp has often utilised defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva as a centre-back, and James Milner as a left-back; but with the former expected to leave the club at the end of his contract this summer, the major concern remains with Milner.
For all the praise the 31-year-old has had for adapting to his new position on the left side of the Liverpool defence, he is not the answer the club are looking for.
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Therefore, Liverpool must bring in a quality left-back in the summer.
Milner should only be played in the position as a last resort option, with a Luke Shaw or a Sead Kolasinac – two reported Liverpool targets – shouldering the brunt of the responsibilities.
That also means the end for Alberto Moreno at Anfield. Defensively, the Spaniard has proven to be unreliable and weak, and the fact that Milner, a midfielder by trade, has had to step in suggests his time at the club is nearing an end.
But it is imperative that Liverpool do not take Milner’s success for granted this summer and make the assumption they don’t need to make a change at left-back.
Contrastingly, a number of their Premier League rivals have got established, consistent performers in the role; and their lack of experimentation is one of the reasons why they stand so far above Liverpool.
Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso are two prime examples.
This summer, Liverpool must discard Milner and find themselves their own Rose, or their own Alonso. Even if it means Milner falling down the pecking order as a midfield option.
In other Liverpool news, La Liga heavyweights Barcelona are planning a player-plus-cash deal for this Anfield star.