Liverpool Need a Defensive Midfielder

Liverpool Football Club, as it stands, are standing still in the transfer market. Over the summer it has been no secret that Liverpool have wanted to bolster their midfield, and yet, have currently lost more midfielders than they have signed. James Milner, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Naby Keita all left for free following contract expiry, whilst Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both jetted off to the Saudi Pro League.

This has crippled Liverpool and has made their two midfield acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai comparable to a glossy paint job on a broken car. Mac Allister and Szoboszlai, whilst excellent players, are not suited to playing defensive midfield, an area that had been needing a refreshment before the departures of Henderson and Fabinho. So where does Liverpool stand?

Initial Rumours

Many names have cropped up as suggestions and rumours over the last few months, however, there has been no new arrival through the door. The most prominent name and one that had been on the minds of many Liverpool fans for the past season was the generational Jude Bellingham. However, Liverpool were ultimately outmuscled by Real Madrid, when the Spanish giants swooped in with a bid in excess of €100 million. Nevertheless, not long after strong initial links were suggested for two players in particular, namely Khéphren Thuram and Manu Koné. Similar players in age and profile, however very different play styles. 

Thuram, despite his 6’4 frame, is a nimble box-crashing midfielder, and his statistics suggest he is more suited to the role of a box-to-box midfielder or an auxiliary number eight, as opposed to a lone defensive midfielder. Kone, though less eye-catching, offered more defensive numbers, but also is still lacking in top-flight match experience. Following rather disappointing campaigns for the two of them at the u21 European Championships with France, Liverpool links began to die down and interest was turned to Romeo Lavia.

Liverpool Vs Chelsea

Romeo Lavia, now with Chelsea, was somewhat of a diamond in the rough last season whilst playing for a turbulent Southampton side. Despite having injuries disrupt his season, Lavia cut an impressive figure in midfield, disrupting opposition moves and creating chances for his own side. However, after numerous low bids were rejected Liverpool grew frustrated, and instead tried to hijack Chelsea’s move for Moise Caicedo of Brighton.

Once again, disappointment. Despite Brighton accepting Liverpool’s bid the player chose Chelsea, and more frustratingly, Chelsea also swooped on Lavia, leaving Liverpool in a mess. So what now for the club? Liverpool looked threatening but vulnerable in their first league game of the season, naturally against Chelsea, and the midfield lacked steel and defensive solidity. It is unequivocally clear that Liverpool need a defensive midfielder, however, in the currently inflated market options may be slim. 

Other Potential Names

It should be noted, that because Liverpool have shown their hand by demonstrating their willingness to pay big in the example of Caicedo, the club should expect inflated transfer demands from clubs. The current rumours and leaks have suggested Liverpool have six names shortlisted as potential signings following the collapse of the Caicedo and Lavia deals.

João Palhinha of Fulham, Kalvin Phillips of Manchester City, Cheick Doucouré of Crystal Palace, Sofyan Amrabat, Khéphren Thuram of Nice and André Trindade da Costa Neto (André) of Fluminense. However, all of the above names have either had hefty price tags placed on their hands, or else have already been positively linked with other clubs, once again demonstrating Liverpool’s lack of efficiency in the market in recent times. 

Potential Cheaper Options

However, all of the above players share a similar playstyle, which makes scouting other similar options for cheaper a possible outlet One such player is Youssouf Fofana of Monaco. Somewhat of a late bloomer and yet only 24, Fofana’s form exploded last season which earned him a starting spot for France at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Stylistically he would suit Liverpool’s style, given his ability to play either as a lone defensive midfielder or in a duo, with a good range of passing and defensive actions. Another potential signing, and a player who has seemingly gone under the radar for several seasons, is PSV Eindhoven’s Ibrahim Sangaré

Accomplished as both a defensive midfielder and traditional central midfielder, Sangaré’s defensive numbers and passing numbers profile well for a move to an elite club. Tall and physically imposing, Sangaré’s ability with the ball at his feet is also impressive, and he has a knack for chipping in with assists and goals atop his impressive defensive work.

One final player who cannot be forgotten is Manu Koné. Kone suffered a knee injury at the u21 European Championships which ruled him out for the past six weeks, however, with Kone back in training he could still provide a late option for Liverpool.

Liverpool’s Current Position

The 2022/2023 Premier League season exposed Liverpool’s need for a midfield rebuild, and yet despite having spent heavily on midfield already this season, the club are still short in this department. Missing out on both Caicedo and Lavia may have been frustrating, however, there are still viable options on the market. Liverpool may have difficulty in negotiating following their poor financial poker face during the Caicedo and Lavia affairs, however, the club can still provide an attractive destination for interested players.

At the current stage, Liverpool still have just days left to get a player through the door. Who this may be is still a mystery, however, at this point, most fans and critical pundits would be happy with any player with the ability to protect a fragile Liverpool defence and midfield. One or even two midfielders are still needed, and with a long season ahead, Liverpool need defensive cover more than ever. 


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