Liverpool’s to-do list this summer seems to be increasing by the week.
You could easily justify a minimum of three midfielders. There is an argument for a back-up right-back coming in too, especially if James Milner doesn’t renew for another season. Calvin Ramsay’s debut campaign has been decimated by injury and he could perhaps do with a loan move next term, so an understudy to Trent Alexander-Arnold could be required.
There’s talk that Diogo Jota could leave this summer and with Roberto Firmino set to say goodbye when his contract expires, you could make the case for another attacker to be signed.
Then there’s the centre-back situation.
On paper, a four made up of Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez is more than enough. But in reality, it is lacking. Konate picks up far too many injuries and this has to be a concern for Jurgen Klopp and the coaching staff. Van Dijk has looked a little off the pace this season and it is worth noting that he only has two years left on his current deal.
Matip doesn’t look like the player he was in previous years and his contract comes to an end in 2024, so a decision will have to be made on him sooner rather than later while Gomez continues to blow hot and cold. One week he looks like he’s going to hit the levels of 2019/20, the next he looks painfully out of place in a Premier League team.
He isn’t given the minutes he needs to play himself into form. But then when he’s called upon, he’s inconsistent. It isn’t anybody’s fault but the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that a decision will have to be made on his future, despite him signing a new deal last summer.
Over recent weeks the Reds have been linked to centre-backs. The most recent link is to Jurrien Timber. German media initially made the claim before Dutch outlet VoetbalPrimeur put out a story claiming the Ajax defender is looking for a house on Merseyside ahead of a summer move.
It seems a little farfetched but it is a possibility, isn’t it? The Reds appear to be fond of Dutch players right now having signed Cody Gakpo in January while revisiting their previous interest in Ryan Gravenberch. Melissa Reddy published a piece earlier in the week for Sky Sports in which she revealed the 20-year-old midfielder is enthusiastic about a potential move to Anfield.
Liverpool have also been linked with Dutch duo Perr Schuurs and Micky Van de Ven, so maybe there’s a certain profile in mind.
There is a lot to like about Timber. He’s versatile – having played as a right-sided centre-back as well as a left-sided one and he’s filled in at full-back. He is really progressive on the ball, as evidenced by his FBref page, but he does benefit from playing in a dominant Ajax team, so that is something that needs to be factored into this when looking at his data.
What you can take away from his data in the Eredivisie is that he’s used to seeing a lot of the ball and that he’s aggressive when in possession. Both would be useful traits in this Liverpool team.
He turns 22 in June but already has a lot of experience. He’s played over 100 games for Ajax, is a full international for the Netherlands and has appeared in European competitions. He’s young but has been exposed to first-team football from an early age meaning he’s already made a lot of his mistakes.
Timber is far from perfect though. As flagged in a feature a few weeks back, he’s really weak in the air. It would be an issue in the Premier League, especially for a side like Liverpool, but should it be a deal-breaker? Ideally, I’d want a more dominant centre-back. Klopp may feel there are ways to cover such a weakness though.
What is interesting when looking at the 21-year-old though is how good of a fit he’d be for this new-look system. He could play the Konate role, covering the wide area on the right to allow Alexander-Arnold to step into midfield. It is a role Gomez could well do, but the link to Timber might suggest the England international is the one leaving this summer. If that is the case, the Ajax man could be the perfect replacement for the Liverpool No2.