It is a position that has been revolutionised over the past three seasons at Anfield, but Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first-team spots may not be all that secure over the next few seasons.
In recent times, the ever-reliable James Milner has filled the void when the marauding full-backs have been summoned to the injury table, whilst Neco Williams continued to impress as he made six appearances and obtained a Premier League medal during the closing stages of Liverpool’s first title-winning season.
But whilst Milner has been a dependable candidate when called upon, the quality of competition, in particular for the left-back spot, falls way below the level required of Premier League champions.
Williams gained vital experience during the latter part of this season, providing excellent cover for Alexander-Arnold should he be injured, even playing in the left-back role on his Premier League debut, resulting in a 3-1 win for the Reds away at Brighton.
However, behind Andy Robertson, you have to look to 19-year-old Yasser Larouci, whose debut appearance came in the Reds’ 1-0 victory over Everton in the FA Cup.
And whilst the Algerian has gained admiration for his performances with the academy and over previous pre-seasons with the first team, the young defender has found opportunities to make the matchday squad hard to come by. With only a year left on his current contract, Larouci is keen for more playing time as he looks to kick-start his promising career.Embed from Getty Images
With the news of Larouci’s desired departure from Anfield emerging, Liverpool have turned their attention in strengthening in the left-back spot, showing interest in Norwich City’s Jamal Lewis. The Northern Irishman collected many admirers in his maiden Premier League season, making 28 appearances and scoring once for the Canaries.
Jürgen Klopp has made it clear his intentions to improve in specific areas, and Lewis would be an excellent backup should Robertson get injured or need a rest.
The full-back possesses all the qualities the German would expect from potential transfer targets. Lewis has an abundance of pace at his disposal, has the eye for a killer pass and isn’t afraid to go forward and help out in attack – a trait Robertson has become so popular for since arriving from Hull City.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool are no strangers when it comes to taking advantage of signing players from relegated sides. Robertson himself was signed from Hull City for £8m after the Tigers dropped out of league in 2017. A year previous, Georginio Wijnaldum joined the Reds from Newcastle for just under £25m, with Michael Edwards and Klopp keen to repeat this tactic by trying to lure Lewis away from Carrow Road.
However, the asking price desired by the Canaries could prove to be a stumbling block. Liverpool value Lewis at around £10m, but Norwich are keen to hold out for almost double that figure, having rejected a bid of £12m from Crystal Palace during the January transfer window. Despite being an incredible talent, £20m is a considerable amount for a player with only one year of Premier League experience under his belt – even in today’s inflated market.
Norwich are also facing a battle to keep a number of their top performers for their upcoming season in the Championship. The likes of Todd Cantwell, Emiliano Buendía, Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons have joined Lewis on the radar of other Premier League clubs. The Canaries have shown previously they are willing to hold out for their desired asking price – the club held out for £20m before selling James Maddison to Leicester back in 2017.
A potential way Liverpool could bridge the gap in price is by offering Larouci as part of the deal and bringing the price down. With the young full-back expected to leave the Reds in the summer, this moves seems beneficial for everyone involved.
Norwich will be playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world next year and, as we have previously seen with Rhian Brewster and Harry Wilson, the Championship could prove to be a great first step for Larouci to get his regular playing career off to the best possible start.
Should a deal be agreed between the clubs, Lewis will become the most expensive Northern Ireland player in history, topping George Saville’s move to Middlesbrough and Jonny Evans’ switch to West Brom, both at £8m.
Lewis may still be mulling over a potential move to Merseyside, with regular game-time being the biggest issue when deciding on his future. With Robertson now regarded among the best left-backs in world football, Lewis would arrive as an understudy to the Scot, which may result in starts being limited to the FA and League Cup, with the odd substitute appearance.
But Liverpool should act quick if Lewis’ heart is set on playing at Anfield, as many other Premier League teams will be waiting in line to snap up the young defender.
Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City have also shown interest in the 22-year-old, who will not be short of offers as he looks to continue his career as a Premier League player.
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