There is a lot of competition for places in that part of the field at Liverpool this season.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confidently claimed that he has probably solved Liverpool’s central defensive problems for the next decade.
He has certainly sorted out issues in terms of personnel, with worries that Liverpool might need to strengthen significantly with Jamie Carragher retiring and the constant speculation linking Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel with moves away from Anfield.
But for the decade ahead it may be debatable, especially if Skrtel and Agger stick around for years to come.
Tiago Ilori is still a player that will require some development even if he is a very talented footballer, and will need to adapt the English game in case he is called upon in the near future, one would think the solution to this would be some game time.
So, how does Rodgers keep all of his men happy? There has been much talk of the team spirit around the camp, and a good team spirit you would think would undoubtedly help a players’ happiness but it appears there is no substitute for a footballer then playing plenty of first team football. Rodgers doesn’t even have the luxury of European football to offer his central defenders more opportunities.
There are a lot of factors that have to be included to claim that these players will stick around for ten years at the club but Rodgers has insisted they will get their chance.
He is quoted in the national press as saying: ‘They will get their chance. Martin Skrtel took his chance and that is their job. Every day in training I assess who is on form and who has the desire to be in the team. It is not a problem.’
Well if it is a problem it seems to be a nice one, but a key factor in all of this is Rodgers making it clear to Sakho and Ilori that they know their role within the squad, that the focus with Ilori is to develop him for the future rather the here and now, whereas Sakho will be pushing Agger, Skrtel and Toure for a starting place – and he will be expected to play given the fee he commanded, with some reporting it was up to £18m.
The challenge wasn’t getting the players in that are good enough to be at the club in ten years time if they keep progressing as they are, the real challenge is keeping them happy. Maybe Rodgers has the solution in a change of system? Three at the back, perhaps?
image: © psgmag.net