Following on with the players who are entering the final 18 months of their contracts, below is a list of defenders who could become summer targets in 2023. Joe Gomez is a constant question mark defender, and Joel Matip appears a man forever on the brink of injury. Virgil will maintain, but his own age will mean some form of management throughout future seasons. We have seen the impact Ibrahima Konate has been able to make since he arrived, and to continue our squad regeneration would mean targeting specific players ahead of when they are needed.
On the Anfield Index website is a link to my previous article on ‘contract rebel’ attackers, as produced late in November. Below you can find my own defensive picks who will be entering the same contractual situation next summer.
Age – 23 years old
Current club – Inter Milan
This left footed centre back has had a solid career thus far and could be a very good option as we evolve our back line group. His ability to cover and rotate for Virgil would allow better management of our defensive leader, and it would also offer the option to switch to a back three down the line. His tutelage and craft would fit well within our group and would offer a nice timeline alongside 22-year-old Ibou.
Potential fee – £40m
Age – 26 years old
Current club – Bayern Munich
This is a player who was once heralded as one of the world’s best defenders in waiting, and his £80m move from Atletico Madrid in 2019 was supposed to propel him to that next level. A series of injuries and inconsistency have followed, and though his stock is still quite high, he isn’t quite the player we all assumed he would become. For Liverpool he could represent a good replacement for either Joe or Joel, and his time under Diego Simeone will surely be a draw for Jurgen Klopp. If this is a deal that could happen, we would still garner the peak years of an elite potential defender that could easily drop into our side.
Potential fee – £35m
Age – 21 years old
Current club – Monaco
Stylistically this man fits the bill for the prototype Jurgen Klopp centre-back, certainly in terms of size and stature. His dominance and youthful age will be a draw, and the timeline of his career could coincide perfectly with a team wide regeneration. Though not the quickest, his ability to play from the left side of defence would offer good rotation with Virgil, and again give back three options down the road. The next half year of his development will surely be watched closely, as in the summer he could be a good addition to this Reds’ squad.
Potential fee – £30m
Age – 25 years old
Current club – Villarreal
The man who was once destined to join either Tottenham or Manchester United still remains in Spain. A classy defender with a left-sided nature that could easily replace Joe Gomez as that Virgil alternative. His pathway into his best years would complement the group, and his international pedigree would also be a major bonus. With most rival Premier League teams now set at centre back, Liverpool could take advantage and grab this intriguing player for a knock down price.
Potential fee – £35
From the above it’s a difficult pick, but the fact is that Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk are now in their 30’s and Joe Gomez continues to raise questions. In the next summer window, I believe a central defender is a must, and from the above I would like to see Alessandro Bastoni targeted. He still holds so much potential and Inter may well be in a position where they have to sell in order to balance the books. His ability as a left-sided centre back would offer natural coverage and allow Virgil to be rested as he ages.
We can’t let the lack of midfield signings migrate into our defensive group, and hopefully the next Sporting Director will look to stay ahead of the game.