Jose Enrique has pitched his flag in Nathaniel Phillips’ camp, saying that he’d rather keep the 24-year-old in the squad than spend £18m on Ozan Kabak.
The latter was brought in on loan from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke, with the Reds dipping into the transfer market at the last minute following a spate of injuries sustained to the club’s backup centre-half options.
“If both Phillips and Kabak were free this summer, I’d still go for Phillips,” the former Liverpool star told EOTK yesterday.
“But with Phillips already ours and Kabak costing £18m, I definitely choose Nat. Next season, my four defenders would be Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Phillips.
“If Matip is sold, I’d bring in a new centre-back, but Phillips won’t cost us anything and has proven himself.
“Phillips is strong and amazing in the air. Kabak would be better for a possession team, a Barcelona, but in the Premier League, with all the long-balls, I prefer Phillips for our style.
“I think next to van Dijk, Gomez or Matip, he could do the job. He’s still quite young and is getting better and better. He deserves an opportunity next season – that means money can be spent elsewhere.
“Obviously if we had £300m we could just bring in Kalidou Koulibaly or whoever, but Liverpool will have to be smart this summer.”
Fondly nicknamed ‘The Bolton Baresi’ by the fanbase, Phillips has impressed whilst deputising alongside the 20-year-old in the heart of defence.
An applaudable performance against Real Madrid in the second-leg of our Champions League quarter-final tie suggests that the Englishman is capable of playing at the highest level for Liverpool, at the very least as a backup option.
That being said, we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss Kabak in the equation, who has been forced to adjust not only to a new side but a new league and style of play.
The Turkey international has bags of potential at his disposal, but with the likes of Ibrahima Konate dangling on the horizon of an upcoming transfer window, the club may indeed feel that £18m would be better spent towards guaranteed quality.