David Alaba The Swiss Army Knife Liverpool Need
This upcoming transfer window — whenever that will be in the coronavirus paused footballing world — could well be Dejan Lovren’s last at Liverpool.
The Croat defender has proved a divisive player amongst the Reds fans since his £20M switch from Southampton in the summer of 2014 and his Anfield stint almost came to an end last summer as a move to Roma was apparently close.
However, the Giallorossi failed to agree a fee with Liverpool and Lovren — who was open to the switch to the Italian capital — stayed for his sixth season in Red.
Now, though, it appears the mistake prone 30 year old will move to pastures new in pursuit of first team football with, among others, Arsenal and Tottenham interested in acquiring his services.
The Croat’s likely departure will leave a void in the Liverpool squad that will need filling and the ideal player for this role — and others — is Bayern Munich’s David Alaba.
The rapid Austrian international has been a regular for the Bavarians since 2011, playing extensively as a left back, but also as a centre half — where he has featured regularly this season, replacing Mats Hunmels and allowing Alphonso Davies to play full back — and as a central midfielder; a position where he has excelled in his 72 Austria caps.
But now, according to reports in Germany, the versatile 27 year old could well leave the Allianz Arena in the summer in search of a new challenge.
Contract talks have stalled and Munich are reputedly considering selling Alaba — who has a year remaining on his current deal with the German giants — now rather than losing him for free next summer.
Among the Austrian’s, born to Nigerian and Philippine parents, suitors, per reports, are Real Madrid and Barcelona but Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool should throw their hats into the ring and offer him the chance to make a move to the Premier League.
Not only as a centre half, the six times European Champions could do with Alaba as competition for Andrew Robertson at left back.
Standing 5’11, the former Hoffenheim loanee has enough game intelligence to mitigate his relative lack of height in the heart of defence and has done so as Bayern top the Bundesliga and are on course to roar into the Champions League quarter final. His use as a full back and central midfielder also means he can efficiently pass and carry the ball out from the back, too, which can — at times — be as useful to a dominant team like the Reds as a natural ability as a centre half.
A cursory glance at Liverpool’s squad will show that the only position without sufficient depth is the left full back berth, with Robertson being the only natural senior player in that role.
The Scot has been a brilliant signing since his summer 2017 arrival from Hull City, but having a quality option to rotate him with will not only serve the 26 year old well — allowing him sufficient rest after close to three years of constant, high octane football — but also the squad as a whole.
A recurring tactical feature of the Reds’ midfield in recent seasons is their central midfielders playing with discipline and providing the defensive stability that allows Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold to become such effective attacking outlets.
So, who better to provide defensive midfield coverage for Robertson — while also offering the physicality Klopp values in the engine room, as well as another left footed set piece taker — at left back than Alaba, a player with extensive experience in and an intuitive knowledge of the position?
Many may feel that a player of the Austrians calibre might be reluctant to join a club where he’s not guaranteed to start every game. But such is the bloated nature of Liverpool’s fixture list, as well as Alaba’s versatility and functionality there will be plenty of games on offer.
Whether the clubs owners would be prepared to pay a big fee and wages for a 27 year old remains to be seen, but the serial Bundesliga winner is almost three players in one and would offer great value for money.