Rumour review: Botman, Alaba and Ramos among defenders on the agenda

MATTHEW RAMIREZ assesses the latest crop of January transfer rumours concerning Liverpool, and has a good laugh at one Spain international linked with a move to Anfield.

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With Liverpool’s defensive options decimated because of injuries this season, we were all hoping that we would have a new signing to obsess over by now.

The word crisis gets thrown around a lot, and although as a club Liverpool are not in a crisis, its fair to say that the situation involving our lack of centre-back options is quite concerning.

The long-term injuries sustained by both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez early on in the season led many of us to believe that signing a centre-back in the January transfer window was quite likely.

Add to that the multiple niggling injuries that Joël Matip has also managed to pick up in the process and it’s fair to say that we were all very confident that, come the opening of the transfer window, we would be welcoming a new defensive option to Anfield.


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I for one was absolutely convinced that we had already done our business and that, like van Dijk next to his Christmas tree, we would be announcing a signing either before the window or as soon as it opened. Needless to say, this did not happen – and it’s looking more and more likely that Klopp will gamble with the options he already has.

The fact that the German himself came out publicly to say it was “unlikely” that the club would make any signings whatsoever has discouraged a lot of outlets from linking players with a potential move to Anfield.

That said, there have been one or two rumblings of potential additions to Klopp’s squad – so let’s see what the fuss is about.

Sven Botman – LOSC Lille

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This has been one of the most persistent of the rumours involving the Reds, and it comes in the form of Lille’s 20-year-old Dutch centre-back.

Few people – myself included – will have known much about him before these rumours emerged, but the 1.95m centre-half has become a stalwart in a title-chasing Lille side which has kept nine clean-sheets so far this season, eight of which have come in the league.

Funnily enough, if the transfer does go through this would be the third of former Southampton man José Fonte’s defensive partners, after van Dijk and Dejan Lovren, to have moved to Anfield.

From the odd Lille game that I have managed to watch, the young centre-back at the very least looks solid and seems to fit the tactical profile for a Klopp defender.

However, at this point, the rumour looks dead in the water and talk has very much died down after The Athletic’s James Pearce said there had been no contact between the clubs about Botman. It will be interesting to see if this one gets revisited in the summer, though.

VERDICT – Don’t hold your breath…

David Alaba – FC Bayern

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Well this would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it Reds?

I don’t think anyone in the world would dare question the undoubted quality and experience that David Alaba would bring to Liverpool’s back line. The man is an absolute monster of a defender and a complete and utter athlete. In other words, he fits the mould in terms of what Klopp wants from his players – the man is a Rolls-Royce.

This signing would make sense for multiple reasons. Firstly his ability, which I won’t waste my time going through because if you’re unfamiliar with Alaba’s exploits then I doubt you watch football at all, and secondly how integral he could become.

I don’t mean integral in the same way that Klopp talks about rotation players coming in to do a job – I’m talking more along the lines of coming in and potentially displacing Joe Gomez as Virgil’s starting centre-back partner.

In my opinion the signing of Alaba makes more sense and is more likely than signing Botman, for example, as it fits in with the club’s overall transfer strategy – don’t panic buy players to plug gaps, but add players who will make a difference to your squad. Alaba would do that, and not just on a temporary basis.

The Austrian has been at Bayern Munich since 2009, spending one year with their second team before being promoted to the senior squad in 2010 where he instantly became a mainstay in the side.

He has made more than 400 appearances for the club, most of which came at left-back before his conversion to a more central role last year – a position which he has gone on to master given his defensive capabilities and physical prowess.

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The only thing is, it’s more likely to happen in the summer if it happens at all. Alaba is currently in the final six months of his Bayern Munich contract, meaning he can leave on a free in the summer and is now able to sign a pre-contract agreement with other clubs.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, they seem to face stiff competition from Real Madrid to sign the Austrian in the summer, and it seems highly unlikely that a deal would be brokered to allow the centre-back to join immediately.

It doesn’t make sense for Bayern to allow this player to leave halfway through a season that is seeing them challenge on all fronts – he’s simply to important to their defence.

VERDICT – It could happen, but not likely until the summer.

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

Nope, nope, nopedy nope nope.

Firstly, let me just say that I’m not being bitter towards Sergio Ramos because of what happened in Kiev. He has been doing that sort of s***housery all his career, and it’s part of what has made him so important to Los Blancos.

He is the defensive equivalent of a Luis Suárez – you love him if he’s yours, and you hate him when he’s up against you. Simply put, he’ll die for the badge and he’ll come up clutch with a goal when you need him most.

He has been a vital piece of a Madrid machine which dominated Europe and he will go down as one of football’s greats.

BUT.

Ramos is rash. Ramos will get sent off multiple times in season. Ramos is soon to be 35. And Ramos will demand both huge wages and a starting berth.

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Five years ago I would’ve bitten your hand off to land Sergio Ramos on a free. But we have a leader at the back now. We have Virgil. We don’t need Ramos.

Unlike Alaba who is still in his late-20s, Ramos has reached his ceiling and won’t get better, he’ll only decline – and my fear is he would cause our defence to decline in the process.

The Premier League is different to any other league in the world, in that it’s more physical, you get less time on the ball and strikers are in your face. Can Ramos cope with that regularly on a defensive level? I’d say yes, but can he cope with that from a mentality point of view? Can he reign in his aggression and maintain discipline? I’m not so confident.

I’d argue that when we’d need him most, he’s likely to get sent off because he’s a passionate player. Passion isn’t a bad thing, per sé, but I prefer my centre-backs to stay on the pitch.

On another note, it would be extremely interesting to see the fan response if we do sign him, and I for one would love to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room when he gets introduced to the lads. “Hi Mo, remember me? I’m Sergio.”

VERDICT – Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.


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