Former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson believes that the Reds need to reinforce the left-back position at Anfield in the transfer market this summer.
Andrew Robertson is currently the only natural player in that role in Jurgen Klopp’s senior squad and while there is a young alternative at the club in Yasser Larouci, the pundit feels that a “more experienced” backup to the 26-year-old is needed.
Thompson told Sky Sports: “I think we do need a back-up for Andy Robertson. He does play a lot of games. Neco Williams, at right-back, I do see him being able to cover for Trent [Alexander-Arnold], but I think at left-back – Larouci, the young lad we have is a really good player, but I think we need someone a bit more experienced.”
Thompson’s reservations about the depth at left-back are understandable. That 34-year-old midfielder James Milner has been shoehorned into a wide defensive position for some matches this season illustrates how sparse Liverpool’s options are in that area and thankfully Robertson has managed to remain injury-free throughout the campaign.
Larouci is only 18 and still learning his trade, while his development was dealt a cruel blow last summer when he was on the end of a robust tackle from Joris Gnagnon of Sevilla in a pre-season friendly which saw the perpetrator sent off (as per liverpoolfc.com). Thankfully the teenager was back playing youth team football relatively quickly after that incident and he was drafted into the first team for two FA Cup games in January (as per TransferMarkt).
Unfortunately, a less than convincing display against Shrewsbury in the second of those led to criticism of his performance from some Liverpool fans, while Klopp’s preference of Milner at left-back over the Algeria-born youngster indicates how much he still has to do to carve out a place in the Reds’ senior squad.
The Merseysiders have been linked in recent days with a possible summer move for Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (as per Football London), who is the same age as Larouci but has enjoyed regular Premier League football this season. The contribution of three goals and nine assists from the converted left-back showcases his attacking threat and a match average of 1.8 successful tackles shows that he can be strong defensively, too.
Larouci still seems too raw to be thrown into the first team should (heaven forbid) anything happen that keeps Robertson out for a prolonged period of time, whereas Saka could at least be drafted in with a decent diet of top-level experience under his belt. Therefore, Thompson is justified in calling for Liverpool to reinforce their left-back options over the summer.
Liverpool fans, do you share Thompson’s concerns about the sparsity of left-back depth at Anfield? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!