By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke
Honestly, I could sit here all day and get nostalgic about many of Liverpool’s past players, wondering how they’d fit into Jurgen Klopp’s side.
I wonder how Luis Suarez would link up with Mohamed Salah; I dream of a midfield of Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard and how they’d be the missing piece of an oh-so-perfect and beautiful puzzle. But recently, my mind has has been longing for the return of a man so quickly forgotten – Ragnar Klavan.
The Estonian departed Anfield in the summer, and with very little fanfare as he switched Merseyside for sunny Italy with a move to Cagliari.
Amongst a whirlwind summer off the back of Champions League final, a shiny new £100 million midfield and a world record goalkeeper transfer, Klavan packed his bags and left through the back door with not so much as a wave goodbye whilst fans gleefully greeted the arrivals of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Alisson.
And to be frank, who can blame them? Liverpool were going places, and there was no time to mourn over the loss of a fourth (possibly fifth or sixth) choice 32 year-old centre back. Six months on from his departure, however, the Reds need him more than ever.
Amidst an almost catastrophic centre-back crisis, which has seen injuries to all options Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and even Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool were forced to face off against Wolves with a central defensive partnership of midfielder Fabinho and 16-year-old right back Ki-Jana Hoever – to say the least, it wasn’t vintage viewing.
Whilst Virgil van Dijk sat out the Wolves match with a slight knock, his absence is a cautionary tale of the gaping chasm of disaster Liverpool could fall into should he pick up a more serious knock – and with a title challenge on the line, this lack of depth would be catastrophic and almost fatal.
Whilst Ragnar Klavan never truly threatened the first team fray, his presence as an experienced and reliable defender never let Jurgen Klopp down. Happy to play a supporting role and perform when called upon, the Estonian is truly the man Liverpool would need right now in the thick of an injury crisis that threatens to derail all of our dreams.
In a world of football where few fully established players are happy to sit on the bench and play backup, Klavan was a rare exception. The bench is usually reserved for three types of players: youngsters, mercenaries and unhappy out of favour players – not an ideal selection to call upon in a position that requires experience and know-how. Ragnar was different.
Arriving for just shy of £5 million from Augsburg in 2016 – from the outset the Estonian knew his limited place in the side. Despite arriving for mere pennies in footballing terms, Klavan was no bargain basement buy – he was an experienced Bundesliga professional with steel and calmness in his locker. In two seasons with Liverpool, the Estonian notched up more than 50 appearances, a tidy sum for a bit-part player.
In the midst of impending defensive disaster, Klavan would be the ideal man to call upon in this difficult period. All the dreams of Gerrard and Suarez sharing the field with Salah mean nothing if the Reds capitulate defensively.
That is why, Reds, we should all go to sleep at night dreaming of Ragnar Klavan.