Four Targets To Make Robbo A Backup

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All the talk in the last week or so has been regarding the positional change of Trent Alexander Arnold. With system alterations and strategic tinkering engulfing the white boards of the AXA Training Centre, it’s important to consider how other players will be directly affected by this change. As it stands, there is some clarity in Jürgen Klopp’s vision, with an emphasis to regain the world class form of his English right back. In taking away some defensive responsibilities, it only adds to Trent’s playmaking abilities within a lacklustre middle ground.

 

The groundwork for next season is being worked through now with such little chance of Champions League qualification. This final run of the campaign will no doubt act as the build up to our pre-season, in order to allow the creases to be ironed out ahead of next term. With so little actually working this season, it does make an awful lot of sense to start such a process in this moment. It is obvious that certain pieces need to be upgraded, however, it does seem like one area of the rear-guard is now under absolute scrutiny. Our Scotland captain, Andy Robertson, has been struggling for form for much of the season. With a working back three being integrated into the on ball strategy, it is likely that some of his freedom could be sacrificed in favour of releasing his fellow wingman. With the likes of Joško Gvardiol, Levi Colwell, Gonçalo Inácio, and Evan Indica being linked with a move to Merseyside this summer, a different type of left sided defender is being sought by our German manager.

 

Here are some of the players that are now regularly mentioned in the gossip pages.

 

Joško Gvardiol

Age – 21-years old (DOB 23/01/2002)

Current Club – RB Leipzig 

Contract Expires – June 30th 2027

Nationality – Croatian

Height – 6ft 1inch

Weight – 80kg

Playing Position(s) – LCB / LB

Preferred Foot – Left

Club appearances – 150 games

Club goals & assists – 7 goals / 9 assists

Total minutes played – 12,563

International caps & goals – 21 games / 2 goals

Transfermarkt value – €75m

 

Levi Colwill

Age – 20-years old (DOB 26/02/2003)

Current Club – Chelsea (Brighton on loan)

Contract Expires – June 30th 2025

Nationality – English

Height – 6ft 2inch

Weight – 80kg

Playing Position(s) – LCB / LB

Preferred Foot – Left

Club appearances – 96 games

Club goals & assists – 3 goals / 3 assists

Total minutes played – 7,703

International caps & goals – 0 games / 0 goals

Transfermarkt value – €16m

 

Gonçalo Inácio

Age – 21-years old (DOB 25/08/2001)

Current Club – Sporting Lisbon 

Contract Expires – June 30th 2026

Nationality – Portuguese 

Height – 6ft 1inch

Weight – 78kg

Playing Position(s) – LCB / LB

Preferred Foot – Left

Club appearances – 119 games

Club goals & assists – 10 goals / 8 assists

Total minutes played – 9,365

International caps & goals – 1 games / 0

Transfermarkt value – €25m

 

Evan Ndicka

Age – 23-years old (DOB 25/08/2001)

Current Club – Eintracht Frankfurt 

Contract Expires – June 30th 2023

Nationality – French 

Height – 6ft 4inch

Weight – 82kg

Playing Position(s) – LCB / LB

Preferred Foot – Left

Club appearances – 195 games

Club goals & assists – 11 goals / 11 assists

Total minutes played – 16,638

International caps & goals – 1 games / 0

Transfermarkt value – €32m

 

All of those listed targets house many similarities, in both their stature and positional play. Now compare some statistics of our own Andy Robertson.

 

Andy Robertson 

Age – 29-years old (DOB 11/03/1994)

Contract Expires – June 30th 2026

Height – 5ft 10inch

Weight – 64kg

Playing Position(s) – LB

Preferred Foot – Left

Club appearances – 463 games

Club goals & assists – 20 goals / 81 assists

Total minutes played – 39,385

Transfermarkt value – €48m

 

That is a staggering amount of football played, especially when you consider the frenetic style that has been implemented in his time at Anfield. As a left back, there is no issue with the physical or athletic attributes of Robbo, despite a noticeable drop-off this past season. The key issue is the requirement to become an outside centre half, that would allow more on ball coverage to the all too frequent counter attacks. Recently, we saw Neco Williams able to exploit the Scotsman’s flank, in order to score with a deflected effort. In taking much of the threat away from our right back, we have almost certainly increased the vulnerability of our lefthand side. Soon, clubs will start targeting the former Hull man, with managers looking to stand their strapping centre forwards onto the toes of our left sided defender. Though I am keen to see this system developed and perfected, I am equally eager to see players in the team that are ideal for their roles. The unfortunate truth is that our 62-cap international, is not able to become the player we need.

 

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be sure to start narrowing in on the individuals that will best fit our forthcoming regeneration. With regards to the LCB / LB role, the four listed targets are all left footed central defenders, that can drift into a left back role with either good or excellent levels being retained. Their defensive abilities are their strengths, whilst still holding good levels to progress the ball. With Robbo, he is no more than an attacking left back, who is being asked to cover across. In fixing one issue (TAA), we are opening a new area that will need to be corrected. With a manager so reluctant to replace the old guard, I do worry that Jürgen will do all he can to reshape the left back’s natural game. What we require is exactly what we are pursuing, with each defensive target able to play effortlessly in back three. Our upgrades should not be limited to the midfield area, especially if we are to adjust our patterns of play. With so much to do, it is becoming obvious as to why we might have walked away from the Jude Bellingham deal.

 

I am 100% behind both a personnel and strategic change. I do prefer the first three listed, however, if Ndicka enables more money into the midfield pot (as a Bosman free) then so be it. With regards to our brilliant servant, Andy Robertson, it could be that a starting role within next season’s side becomes more rotational, which is required in any evolution. I cannot see Klopp ever agreeing to a sale of his combative Scot, though I do hope he can make the big decisions that this celebrated club badly needs.

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