Via AllinOne Sports
Thanks to the infuriating inconsistency of current left back Alberto Moreno, Liverpool is in the market for a fullback. The Reds have been linked to a number of left backs ranging from younger, developmental players that would challenge Moreno rather than immediately step in to the starting eleven, as well as more established players that should be able to start right away. James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, a usually reliable transfer source, has stated that young Leicester City left back Ben Chilwell is Jurgen Klopp’s number one target at the position. However, due to Chilwell’s high price tag and his youth that would likely prevent him from being a first team player upon arrival on Merseyside, Klopp should instead turn his attention to German national team fullback Jonas Hector.
Hector plays left back for FC Cologne in the Bundesliga. This season, Hector made 34 appearances in all competitions, making four assists and a miraculously low three yellow cards. A well-established left back who starts on the left side of the defense for the best national team in the world, Hector is in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. Although Moreno averaged about a tackle more per game than the German, Hector averaged more interceptions, clearances, and blocks while conceding fewer fouls per match. Plus, Hector averaged two more defensive actions per match and did not make one defensive error the entire season. Although Moreno is supposed to be a better offensive threat to the more conservative Hector, the German created only four fewer chances over the course of the season and made 1.1 dribbles per match to Moreno’s 0.6. Hector is a very intelligent defender who is positionally sound. He is able to move forward and support the attack while not leaving the defense wide open, something that Moreno struggled with at a number of very inopportune times during the season.
While Hector is clearly the much better option than Liverpool’s current left back, he is also superior to the Reds’ other left back targets Chilwell and Hull City’s Andrew Robertson. Chilwell has very limited experience at all levels of club football with only one appearance this past season for Leicester and nine when on loan at Championship side Huddersfield Town. At just 19 years old, Chilwell is a very highly rated prospect for the reigning Premier League champions, but he is some time away from earning playing time over Moreno. Plus, Leicester have rated Chilwell at a steep £10 million valuation—a high price to pay for a 19 year old defender with one senior appearance for his current club. The young left back did perform well at Huddersfield under Klopp’s close friend David Wagner, but Hector could be had for as little as £2 million more, and he would add far more to the starting eleven than Chilwell in the short term.
Robertson is another younger prospect who would likely provide more competition to Moreno than Chilwell could in the short term, but he would still not be the level of Hector. This past season at Hull Robertson only averaged 1.3 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 2 clearances, and 0.2 blocks per match—all inferior to Hector’s marks. However, the 22 year old was able to score four goals and five assists in 52 appearances, as well as averaging 1.3 key passes and 1.3 dribbles per match. All of these numbers were superior to Hector’s returns, illustrating Robertson’s tremendous abilities in the final third of the pitch. Unfortunately, the Reds already have an offensively minded left back in Moreno who had far superior statistics to the Hull City defender. While statistics are not everything, both players seem to be similar in style and if Liverpool are looking for a player that loves to move up the left flank, the Reds could simply stick with Moreno and focus on developing his tactical awareness while saving the £12 million it would cost to sign Robertson. That leads us to another issue with the potential signing of Robertson in that he too would cost well above his market value for a young player that has not kicked a ball in the highest level of English football thus far in his career. Whether or not he could overtake Moreno for a first team spot is debatable, a key problem for a Reds defensive line that needs a more tactically astute player at left back right now rather than in a few years.
Liverpool needs to make the top four this season without having to deal with European competitions, and a stable defense is virtually a necessity in order to achieve this. Moreno has been continually error prone at the back, and neither Robertson nor Chilwell would likely be able to step in to the starting eleven and significantly improve the defense. Hector, on the other hand, would immediately be a massive upgrade on Moreno, and he costs only a little more than the Reds’ other targets. At 26 years old, Hector could be a long term fixture at the left back position while playing a key role in helping to transform the Reds defense from a weakness into a strength. Hector would be a very affordable upgrade at a huge position of need, and hopefully the Reds realize this and make a move for the talented German.