First off, a happy 4th of July for any fellow American Reds out there.
I’m writing from my couch where I’m currently laid up with a pretty bad case of poison ivy. I’m watching MLS right now and it’s so bad, but it will have to do for now. (Since I started writing, a replay of the Liverpool at Chelsea game started. What are the chances? I could watch Agger putting Torres on the ground on repeat for hours.)
I’m also currently following any transfer rumors, no matter the source.
It’s the usual suspects mostly: Lennon, Enrique, Mata, Downing, Adam. Leighton Baines is even popping up now. That’d be an interesting transfer.
But there’s one position of need that has not been popping up very much and that’s center back.
If LFC want to challenge this season, they have to improve on the current center back situation because we are very thin at that spot.
Who we’ve got
Jamie Carragher, age 33:
At the age of 33, 34 by season’s end, Jamie Carragher is in the twilight of his LFC career. He has been our most outstanding leader for our defense and organizes things well. My hope for Carra is one or two more strong seasons and then an immediate return as a youth coach. He could do wonders for our younger defenders. The worst case scenario for Carra is finding the game passing him by during this season but I think his knowledge and natural feel for the game will keep him a top choice in our back four for this season.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos, age 31 (32 by the start of the season):
The Big Greek was one of Rafa’s last signings and for a cheap price, he has done a good job. He recently got a 12-month contract extension that will cover him through the rest of the season. Like Carragher, Kyrgiakos is nearing the end of his playing run. You have to appreciate his attitude and his physical presence, but at this point, he should not be treated as anything other than an injury cover or a starter against lesser competition to give our starters a break.
Martin Skrtel, age 26:
Skrtel was one of two outfield players in the Premier League to play every minute of the 2010/2011 season (The other? Baines. Wouldn’t that be something if LFC had Skrtel and Baines next season? Barring injury or drop in form, Kenny Dalglish could have two of his outfield 10 penciled in from season’s start.), he played in 10 Europa games and one FA Cup game for 49 appearances last season. Skrtel does the job as far as I’m concerned. There might be better defenders out there but I’m not overly concerned with Skrtel in our starting 11.
Daniel Agger, age 26:
It’s hard to believe that our big Dane is 26 years old, but he is. It might be difficult to believe just because it seems like we haven’t seen much of him on the field thanks to recurring injuries. He’s our best defender going forward but he’s also the most likely to miss games due to injury. He’s a first choice center back for us without question but in the four seasons he has played at Liverpool, he played in more than 20 games only twice. Counting on a full season from Agger at this point would not be smart given his history.
There are more center backs in our squad who can play center back-Martin Kelly, Danny Wilson, Daniel Ayala-but that’s it.
So, to recap: we have two center backs at the brink of retirement, one who is injury prone and Martin Skrtel.
So far, the strongest links Liverpool have had with center backs are Phil Jones, now a Manchester United player, and Cristian Zapata, which seems to have fizzled out recently.
Perhaps John Henry and Damien Comolli are waiting for the market to die down a little bit to let prices slip. United paid £16.5 mil for Jones right at the start of the market, a steep price undoubtedly driven up by competition.
Arsenal will probably be in the market for a center back or two and prices could rise for us if we have competing bids with another top team.
But we need to bid on a center back sometime this month to help out back line depth.