It’s fair to say that the Barcelona squad that between them helped the club to a La Liga and Champions League double in 2006 wasn’t particularly well balanced in terms of defence and attack.
Frank Rijkaard’s focus was clearly on the latter, merging together the dribbling talents of Ronaldinho and a young Lionel Messi with the deadly finishing of Samuel Eto’o.
Ronaldinho was the best player in the world at this time, Messi was well on the way to challenging him and there were few better strikers than Eto’o. Deco, Xavi and a 21-year-old Andres Iniesta were also picked regularly to supply the passes to the forward trio.
Yet in terms of the defensive sphere of the game, there was no focus on recruiting superstars and more of an approach towards making do with what was available.
Oleguer was regularly deployed at either centre half or right back despite being an average player at best and Juliano Belletti was no world beater at right-back despite scoring against Arsenal in the Champions League final.
Throw in that Sylvinho, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Edmilson were also first-team regulars and it is clear that Rijkaard were fully focused on simply scoring more than the opposition.
Rijkaard did seem to learn the error of his ways soon after by signing Lilian Thuram in the months subsequent to beating Arsenal and then Eric Abidal in the following summer.
The big question for Liverpool at present is when it will click with Brendan Rodgers that he too needs to have a balanced team, rather than one that looks increasingly top heavy?
Roberto Firmino may well prove a replacement for Raheem Sterling, but given the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Jordon Ibe, James Milner and Lazar Markovic were already on the club’s books, was the Brazilian really the best use of £29m?
Simon Mignolet came under scrutiny on more than one occasion last season and a new goalkeeper is arguably needed, a top central defender is certainly required after Emre Can was forced to deputise for much of last season, there are doubts in both full-back positions and a holding midfielder could prove the biggest asset of all to better protect the fallible back line.
Liverpool conceded two or more goals in 13 Premier League matches last season and 16 in the year previous. Chelsea have done so in only 11 matches across both campaigns combined.
What is especially noteworthy is that 15 of Liverpool’s current squad cost at least £10m to sign, which is the same as Chelsea.
Should Liverpool make it 16 with Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic as is being suggested in some quarters, they still won’t have addressed their clear defensive Achilles’ heel.
Liverpool are 2/1 to finish in the top four next season, but with Arsenal and Manchester United already taking steps to improve upon last season’s weaknesses, it is hard to see Rodgers orchestrating the Reds’ return to the Champions League, unless he quickly prioritises his use of resources.