Why did Liverpool sign Tiago Ilori?

Ilori signed as a promising centre-half, but has yet to make a first team appearance. So why did Liverpool sign him?

Liverpool confirmed yesterday that defender Tiago Ilori will spend the season on loan at Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.

Ilori signed for the Reds on the final day of last summer's transfer window from Sporting Lisbon but has yet to make a first team appearance for the club. He spent the second half of last season on loan at La Liga side Granada.

Centre-back is an area of the field where Liverpool have a number of options, even if there is a question mark over the future of one or two players. 

Prior to Ilori's arrival - who joined on the same day as Mamadou Sakho -  Liverpool had Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure at the club, whilst Sebastian Coates had just suffered a serious knee injury.

Martin Skrtel's future looked a little uncertain at the time, and Liverpool were experimenting with three at the back, so he was only a couple of injuries away from being in contention for the first team. 

But as the side reverted to a more conventional back four, only two centre-backs were required, and Ilori wasn't needed around the squad as much. 

Ilori signed at the age of 20, and will have inevitably needed game time so he can develop, but his chances looked to be limited at Anfield. 

Now - with the signing of Dejan Lovren and Liverpool's defence being strengthened further - Ilori's chances of getting into the first team appear to be limited further. 

If competition for places is going to result in Ilori not getting any games then it's right to send him on loan. Given that around £7 million was spent on a player, the last thing the club wants is the development of the player to be impaired if there is a long term plan for him.

But if you look at the ages of Lovren and Sakho - 25 and 24 respectively - in the long term they could be the defensive partnership for Liverpool, meaning Ilori could struggle to get into the side even when Toure, Agger and Skrtel eventually move on (Skrtel is 29 so there could be a few more years to come from him, yet).

Even if he has improved remarkably, he could still have a big fight on making his mark for Liverpool. Manager Brendan Rodgers suggested that Ilori is viewed to be part of the Reds' defence in the next decade when he signed, but even with loan spells and improvement in his ability, Ilori may not get as much game time at the club as he thought when he signed for the club.

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