Liverpool’s strength in depth has been a key factor in their success over the past year, with players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Fabinho supporting all the world-class talent available to Jurgen Klopp.
However, since Alberto Moreno’s departure last summer, the Reds have relied heavily on Andy Robertson to play left back every week.
When you look elsewhere on the pitch, pretty much every other position has some degree of support or competition. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren behind them, midfield three often rotates according to form and opposition and the traditional attacking trio can be rotated with different systems and personnel.
Robertson, however, only has the backup option of the versatile midfielder James Milner on his left hip.
Therefore, Klopp could very well try to hire a specialized left back who can provide support to Robertson, as well as some competition to better maintain the international Scotsman.
In terms of profile, the Reds are likely to aim to recruit a young prospect rather than direct replacement. At 26, Robertson still has several years to his peak and any back-up could therefore be a player who has shown the potential to become a world-class talent.
Furthermore, given Liverpool’s style of play and the full-backs’ dependence on creativity, a young left-back who has shown that he sticks to quality would perfectly fit the mold. With that in mind, we have reduced it to six potential left-back options.
Adam Lewis / Yasser Larouci / Tony Gallacher
The famous Adam Lewis has been in his boys’ club since he was five and may be the last local talent to join the senior team.
Looking at the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and, more recently, Curtis Jones, the left back hopes he can also break through the first team.
Liverpool’s technical staff clearly ranks the 20-year-old after his inclusion in the squad of the day for the victory of the third round of the Carabao of the Reds Cup on MK Dons. A knee injury three days later, however, saw him spend four months on the sidelines.
However, his performance in the FA Cup victory over the city of Shrewsbury received a great appraisal from the club staff. It is hoped that his frustration with the injury will be beyond him and will allow him to get out on the other side stronger.
Seems like the perfect youth development option under Robertson. Not only is he a local talent that the club staff knows perfectly, but he also boasts many qualities that could see him adapt to the Klopp system when required.
The skill of the left back on the ball and the willingness to advance means that he could be finely ready to become Robertson’s replacement next season.
Two other terrible young left-backs in the ranks of the Liverpool Academy are Yasser Larouci and Tony Gallacher. No doubt they will hope and work to become the next player to emerge as well.
A less familiar name on Merseyside, but still another promising talent.
Maouassa had previously been linked to Newcastle United last season with Rafa Benitez and made no bones about his ambition to play in the Premier League one day.
Since then, the 21-year-old has been impressive at Stade Rennais, being third at the Ligue 1 table.
With three goals and two assists, the young left back has become a terrible full back who loves to advance and contribute to the attacks. In addition, his team have conceded only 24 goals in 29 league games this season, demonstrating his defensive attitude.
Moving to the Premier League would certainly be a step forward for the young prospect, but it has shown a series of qualities that would lend themselves well to the Liverpool system.
Another name unknown to most Liverpool fans, but probably more familiar to Klopp as Skov plays in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim.
The 23-year-old is arguably the most striking option on the list with most of his performances this season seeing him more striker than a traditional left back.
His seven goals and six assists in all competitions prove it perfectly and suggest that it fits the mold of an attacking option for Liverpool.
From a defensive point of view, Skov also has good numbers. He has won 58.3% of his defensive duels this season. For the context, Robertson has averaged a defensive success rate of 59.3% this season.
A critical point in Skov’s signature could be that he signed for Hoffenheim only last summer. German equipment is unlikely to let him go for less than a year in his contract, but a potential move in Liverpool could help Skov force a move.
An option with multiple wildcards and probably less likely is Wolves’ Vinagre.
However, the 20-year-old has been excellent for the Midlands team this season and has a number of attributes that could work in the Liverpool system.
In 3-5-2, the youngster often plays as a left rear wing to provide width up and down on the left hip. Such energy and stamina are a key point that could push Klopp to recruit the player, but it would clearly be necessary to change style if he were to become Robertson’s support.
More than anything else, the main goal is to model Vinagre in a left back rather than a full back. His attack attributes would be well placed in Klopp’s system, but becoming defensively healthy would be crucial.
Doubts about Vinagre’s market value may discourage Liverpool from pursuing the young man. Wolves have a habit of quoting a lot of money for their talent and you would expect it to be the same with Vinagre.