The protracted nature of Liverpool’s contract conversations with incumbent right-back Glen Johnson are looking increasingly unlikely to result in the England man remaining at Anfield beyond this season, meaning the Reds have yet another key man to replace this summer.
With Steven Gerrard MLS-bound, Brendan Rodgers must find players capable of filling the boots of two enormously experienced practitioners and the Ulsterman’s record in this department should have every Kopite wracked with trepidation.
A disasterpiece of a plan to replace Luis Suarez had to be abandoned midway through the autumn with the Merseysiders in the bottom half of the Premier League and on their way out of the Champions League too.
Their early-season struggles can be attributed to a raft of ill-advised signings’ inability to ingratiate themselves into the system Liverpool flourished in with the Uruguayan goal machine leading the line.
A mid-campaign re-jig has since enabled slow-starting stars such as Emre Can and Lazar Markovic to markedly improve their form, but one of the more pricey recruits continues to underwhelm.
Southampton pocketed £20m when they sold centre-back Dejan Lovren to the team currently rated at 11/10 to finish in the top-four this term and the Croat’s performances so far have fallen some way short of justifying his huge price tag.
The deal underlines the dangers of recruiting players based on one stellar season.
Lovren initially delighted the St Mary’s faithful following his switch from Lyon, with special plaudits drawn for the 25-year-old’s effortless acclimatisation to the demands of English football.
The dependable defender of 2013/14 has looked anything but a year on, yet Liverpool have seemingly learnt nothing from this as they chase down Newcastle’s Daryl Janmaat to replace departing Johnson.
Signed for £5m from Feyenoord, the Dutchman is yet to miss a league game in Toon stripes, setting up an impressive six goals from his right-back berth so far.
However, were Janmaat to make the Anfield switch – a feat which can be backed at 7/1 at bwin.com, the strains on his attacking ability would be much greater.
Rodgers’ formation flavour of the month requires wing-backs to provide almost all of the team’s width and the player deployed on the right-hand side has more often than not been a winger by trade.
Recent matches have seen Lazar Markovic, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe occupy the role, with natural number two Johnson deployed as part of a three-man backline when his services have been required.
Greater duress was placed on Lovren’s defensive powers when he was tasked to marshal a rearguard with a distinct lack of midfield protection, resulting in him failing to rediscover the standard he set at Southampton last year.
After thriving as an orthodox full-back at St James’ Park, Janmaat’s game would need recalibrating to suit the Liverpool style too and, as the Croatian international will attest, dabbling in such devilry could easily yield another transfer calamity for Rodgers and Liverpool.