Premier League • England

Liverpool transfers: Six LCB options Ruben Amorim could sign to plug key gap

Alessandro Bastoni, Riccardo Calafiori, Nico Schlotterbeck

Liverpool need a left-footed centre-back so here are some they could sign

With Ruben Amorim becoming the front runner to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, there will be one position high on his agenda – the left-centre-back role.

Amorim’s Sporting CP side are filled with technical players and a big part of how he sets up is having ball playing centre-backs. Usually in a back three he’ll have the central centre-back who pings diagonals with both feet (Sebastian Coates), one wide centre-back who’ll carry the ball a little and also play through the lines (Ousmane Diomande) and another wide centre-back who loves to carry the ball far and pass through the lines (Goncalo Inacio/Eduardo Quaresma). This centre-back is given so much freedom to carry the ball from deep far up the pitch and tends to be the most progressive passer in the team. An all-round progressive machine.

Looking at Liverpool’s current centre-backs, they have Virgil van Dijk who’s an obvious option to play at CCB, then the likes of Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Jarell Quansah and Joe Gomez could all play as the more conservative WCB. But none of them have elite ball progression attributes. They’re all also right-footed; in fact, Liverpool don’t have one left-footed CB and Amorim loves to have a left-footed CB on the left side and a right-footed one on the right side.

Inacio’s stats make it much clearer just how Amorim is utilising his progressive prowess. Inacio has 8.09 progressive passes which puts him in the top 1% for CBs and 1.34 progressive carries (top 9% for CBs). The sheer volume of ball progressions is partially down to the system but also the quality Inacio possesses on the ball. For that reason he’s an obvious choice for something Amorim could bring in, but who else?

Alessandro Bastoni – Inter Milan

The best option out there is none other than Italian CB Bastoni. Bastoni is one of Inter’s star players and one of his best traits is his passing. The way he can break the lines is seriously special. It’s to the standard of an elite midfielder, but he’s a 6’3” CB. Insane.

Bastoni’s progressive passing from deep areas is world class. There’s a lot of variance to his passing too: switches, playing down the line, through the lines, long passes wide, early crosses, half space crosses, deep crosses and through balls. Bastoni would allow Liverpool to be so direct in getting the ball to their front men as soon as possible, similarly to how Trent Alexander-Arnold does when he plays in more central/deep areas.

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Riccardo Calafiori – Bologna

Bologna’s Riccardo Calafiori has been a revelation for Thiago Motta’s side. Motta signed him from Basel where he played mainly as a left-back/left-midfielder and previously to that at Roma he played as a left wing-back too. Out of his 38 games for Basel he played 12 at CB though and it’s here where Motta decided to use Calafiori once signing him for Bologna.

The Italian CB plays so similarly to how John Stones does for Pep Guardiola’s Man City side, carrying the ball far out of defence, stepping into midfield, entering the final third and combining with attackers. Calafiori would be the perfect player to fulfil this role for Liverpool to drive into the final third. Calafiori is a very front-footed player who’s aerially very strong and can pass through the lines well too, which would be so beneficial in Amorim playing how he wants to.

Castello Lukeba – RB Leipzig

French defender Castello Lukeba signed for RB Leipzig in the summer from Lyon as their replacement for Josko Gvardiol who moved to Man City in a huge deal. Lukeba is another profile who’s perfect for the LB/LCB hybrid role or as a LCB in a back three.

Lukeba defensively is like a brick wall that never ends. He’s so tough to get around due to the fact he has so much lateral power to shift sideways and win the ball. Not just that but Lukeba also has a tight turn radius making him press resistant. Lukeba is a powerful ball carrier with so much security on the ball too. As a line breaker, he’s strong in this area too.

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David Hancko – Feyenoord

Feyenoord’s David Hancko has been a consistent performer for Arne Slot’s side and was a big part in them winning the Eredivisie title last season. Despite being a 6’2” CB, he’s got excellent dribbling ability and loves to carry the ball out of defence. He’ll even look to drive up the pitch combining with other attackers and entering the box.

Hancko has also played LB in his career and the ideal profile for this role is a progressive WCB which is a combination of the roles between a LB and LCB. With good anticipation and timing of last man tackles, Hancko is a real leader at the back. He’d complement the other defenders in the backline for Liverpool very well.

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Facundo Medina – RC Lens

RC Lens have improved drastically over the past few seasons and one of the leaders of the side is Facundo Medina. The Argentinian CB plays as a LCB in a back three with heavy ball progression responsibilities. Sound like someone else? Goncalo Inacio.

His role for Lens mirrors Inacio’s a lot, but Medina also has that extra aggression off the ball. He’s been compared a lot with Lisandro Martinez and rightly so as they’re very similar. This season in Ligue 1 Medina has 7.16 progressive passes per 90 minutes (top 1 % for CBs) and 1.66 progressive carries (top 6%). These type of numbers make him an almost like for like alternative. But it’s not just based on numbers, he has real style and ability on the ball. He’s the type of defender you could picture playing in midfield (again, similarly to Martinez).

Nico Schlotterbeck – Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund’s Nico Schlotterbeck is a quality modern day CB. If he was to be compared to anyone in a lot of ways he’s a more aerially dominant Ben White – a CB capable of carrying the ball like a midfielder with long legs that when he opens them up he can power away past players.

Schlotterbeck possesses a calmness on the ball which makes him very press resistant. He’ll often step up out of defence to bear one or two players then pass through the lines to someone in a more advanced area. Schlotterbeck reads the game so well. He’s one of the best ball-playing CBs in the Bundesliga. To add to that, he even has an eye for goal with top ball striking and heading ability.

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