With the injury crisis the club are currently involved in it’s not a surprise that many media outlets all over the world linking any player with functional legs with the club. Liverpool are currently without all four of their senior centre-backs for the trip to Exeter and links to different centre-backs are appearing daily.
One such rumour has seen Inter Milan centre-back Andrea Ranocchia linked with a 10 million Euro move to Anfield within the next week. Reports suggest a fee is already agreed but these appear to be very one sided with only the Italian media reporting it. This less than a week after the player supposedly rejected the chance to join Norwich City, who had a bid of 10 million Euros accepted by Inter.
The Italian International has seen his career take a Fernando Torres like nose dive over the past 12 months. At the start of the 2014/15 season the long serving centre-back was appointed as captain of Inter replacing the legendary Javier Zanetti. Zanetti, who returned at the end of the 2013/14 season, backed Ranocchia to succeed him.
“Andrea knows the value of the Nerazzurri (Inter) shirt and, in my opinion, he could be the right man when it comes to making this decision.
“He is always available and everyone listens to him. He’s a leader.”
The then 26 year old started his sixth season with the Italian giants as captain. He didn’t finish the season with the armband though. Walter Mazzarri was replaced as coach by Roberto Mancini who then awarded the armband to star striker Mauro Icardi.
Mancini then went out in the summer of 2015 and signed two new starting centre-backs relegating Ranocchia to a place on the bench. Inside of a year he’d not only lost the armband but also his place in the starting XI. Quite the fall from grace. So far in the 2015/16 season he’s made just the one start in Serie A with another nine coming off the bench as Inter have looked to see out one of their famed 1-0 victories of which they’d coincidentally had nine of this season.
For those who aren’t familiar with Ranocchia he is, on paper anyway, your stereotypical Italian defender.
He’s good in the air, confident on the ball and leads the backline well. He reads the game well and he’s proactive in his play, a real front foot defender. Throughout his six season as a regular for Inter Milan he posted some impressive stats for a centre-back. His pass success rate was 87%, he won 2.9 aerial duels per 90 minutes, managed 6.5 clearances per game, 2.9 tackles and 2.3 interceptions. These numbers imply he was consistent and reliable.
He isn’t perfect though. He seems to combine the frailties of both Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren. He sometimes is overconfident on the ball and does too much and in the Premier League, a league that’s quicker than Serie A, he may play himself into trouble. He’s inherited that Italian habit of wrestling players when he’s marking them and seems to give away an awful lot of free kicks in dangerous areas.
The stats in the image above are from the 2014/15 season.
Something that’s been pretty prevalent amongst the Liverpool defence over the past couple of seasons is defensive errors. As you can see Andrea makes them but not as often as Lovren and Skrtel. The Italian also averaged more interceptions than the Liverpool duo along with winning more tackles.
Lovren leads the way when it comes to aerial duels won, Skrtel surprisingly gives away the least amount of fouls and has the highest pass completion of the three.
All in all Ranocchia comes away from this comparison looking like a solid enough centre-back for the Premier League.
Reports claim Jurgen Klopp wanted to sign Ranocchia whilst he was manager of Dortmund in the summer of 2014 but Inter rejected the 15 million euro bid. Could this be a lazy link now with sites looking for clicks?