Ranking five centre-backs Liverpool could be targeting this summer

Some will no doubt be wondering whether they’ve passed through some mysterious time portal back to the 2020/21 campaign.

Back then, a defensive injury crisis effectively destroyed Liverpool’s campaign, with both Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk ruled out for much of the season.

Yet, with Ibrahima Konate playing less than half the club’s available games last term, not to mention our No.2 and Joel Matip proving a little unreliable, there’s a clear need to address the backline once again.

So, what is Jorg Schmadtke’s recruitment team understood to be looking for? According to the Guardian’s Fabrizio Romano: ‘Contacts are taking place behind the scenes for new CB, priority left footed.’

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Right off the bat, we can rule out a handful of potential options, including right-footed centre-halves of the likes of Perr Schuurs and Antonio Silva.

We’ve likewise struck Josko Gvardiol and Nayef Aguerd’s names off the list due to price (thought to be in excess of £80m) and age (27) respectively – we’d imagine Liverpool will be looking to keep the price down and aim for a younger signing.

Pau Torres

Yes, it does seem a bit nonsensical to include a player who has far from recently turned 26 (given we’ve just ruled out Aguerd).

Pau Torres in action for Villarreal – (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Though with the Spaniard’s contract expiring in 2024, and being generally acknowledged as a leading, left-footed centre-half, we felt we couldn’t ignore the Villarreal man.

His stats indicate he could be the perfect replacement for Joel Matip too, were we to pursue his services this summer, registering in the 97th percentile for successful take-ons, 99th for progressive carries, and 96th for progressive passes (though only 51st for pass completion percentage), according to FB Ref.

Transfer likelihood: 40%

Goncalo Inacio

At the other end of the age scale, 21-year-old Goncalo Inacio likewise raises eyebrows when it comes to progressive abilities with the ball, ranking in the 96th percentile for successful take-ons, 97th for progressive carries, and 99th for progressive passes.

What truly distinguishes him from Pau Torres, however, is his pass completion rate coming in in the 93rd percentile, opening up a gaping chasm in quality between himself and his La Liga-dwelling counterpart.

Some allowances have to be made for the differing quality between the Portuguese and Spanish top-flights, of course, though those are particularly encouraging numbers if Liverpool are looking for a Joel Matip-style player to come in.

A contract until 2026, however, may complicate things for Liverpool this summer.

Transfer likelihood: 50%

Levi Colwill

The former Brighton loan star doesn’t possess as interesting stats in comparison to Goncalo Inacio and Pau Torres when it comes to progressive actions with the ball.

However, it’s worth pointing out that the Chelsea man does possess some rather awe-inspiring numbers in the aerial department – registering in the 95th percentile for aerials won (higher than Van Dijk’s 92nd).

Inacio and Torres rank 55th and 29th respectively, a drop-off that will surely count against them in the considerations of our recruitment team.

Levi Colwill and Lewis Dunk of Brighton & Hove Albion share a word – (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

We wouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of Liverpool landing Levi Colwill, however, given that Chelsea have made their stance clear in regards to keeping him at Stamford Bridge.

Perhaps the Blues could be tempted into discussions, of course, given that Benoit Badiashile will more than likely feature ahead in the pecking order.

Colwill’s contract, running until 2025, leaves Chelsea in something of a precarious position, and the current positions of Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic (exploring moves to Manchester United and Manchester City respectively) hardly inspire confidence in the club’s ability to retain top talent.

Transfer likelihood: 30%

Jarrad Branthwaite

Where to begin with this one?

For starters, we might imagine that Everton will be rather reluctant to allow the defender to be the first man to directly join Liverpool from Goodison Park since Abel Xavier.

For argument’s sake, we’ll take a look at his stats regardless. FB Ref, for what it’s worth, paints an okayish picture, with Branthwaite ranking reasonably well for aerials won (72nd percentile), pass completion rate 78th percentile) and progressive passes (75th percentile).

Not terrible stats from the 20-year-old, though we’re certainly more encouraged by what we’ve seen from Levi Colwill.

Transfer likelihood: 10%

Micky van de Ven

The Jorg Schmadtke signing – or, rather, we should say, potential Jorg Schmadtke signing.

The Bundesliga-dwelling Dutchman isn’t a Liverpool player yet and links have been somewhat limited since the i reported that the Reds were tracking the centre-half.

Can Micky van de Ven be coached to become more aerially dominant? – (Photo by Helge Prang/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old is a strong progressor of the ball, according to stats compiled by FB Ref, though could find himself in a similar boat to the likes of Inacio and Torres in that his aerial ability is rather appalling.

Van de Ven finds himself registering in the 4th percentile for aerials won – a ranking that may very well prove terminal for his chances of securing a move to the promised land.

The Dutchman does, of course, play for Schmadtke’s old club. So, if anyone is going to have his corner, it will presumably be Die Wölfe’s former sporting director.

Transfer likelihood: 40%

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