Liverpool’s inexorable march to the Premier League title this season may have been untimely halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but, assuming the Reds are eventually able to end their 30-year wait for an English league title, there is some work for the club to do in the summer. While there are no obvious holes in the first XI, the club may need to work on getting better-quality players to perform backup roles.
Adrian has struggled in goal this season, for example, when asked to deputise for Alisson, with a few high-profile errors masking his good performances from earlier in the season. The most recent footage on allvideoslots clearly shows the gap in quality between first-choice and his understudy. Another problem area is at centre-back, where Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have formed an impressive partnership.
Joel Matip is also a very good alternative when needed, but he is a little injury-prone, which leads to the club having to fall back on the current fourth-choice, Dejan Lovren. The Croatian has played 14 games for Liverpool this season, but is certainly expendable given his age as well as his general level of play. The former Southampton centre-back has been a bit of an oddity during his time at Anfield, having been unable to replicate his form at St. Mary’s which got him the move to Liverpool in the first place.
Nevertheless, Liverpool probably need to replace him if they want to create a dominant squad for the next few years, and there is a young English centre-back who may fill those requirements perfectly.
Ben White has been impressive on loan at Leeds United this season, having come through the Brighton academy and finally having his breakthrough season at Elland Road. Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics are not easy to get used to, while it is a testament to his talent that Bielsa has made him his defensive lynchpin, despite him only being on loan at the club. The fate of the likes of Jack Clarke and Eddie Nketiah shows that Bielsa does not like to develop players who are not around for the long-term, but he has made a clear exception in the case of White.
White has been calm and composed in possession, a necessary attribute for a Bielsa centre-back, as well as for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. He is good at the actual defensive work as well; however, there are some areas for him to work on, most notably his heading and aerial duels, as he has only a 52% success rate for aerial duels this season, which could be concerning given that Liverpool often face long balls from their opponents. Nevertheless, he is versatile, having played at wing-back for Leeds as well, and at only 22 years of age, has plenty of time to develop into a top centre-back. What’s more, his potential transfer fee makes him even more of a bargain, especially when compared to some of the Reds’ other transfer targets.
White is expected to return to Brighton at the end of this season, with the Seagulls probably willing to accept a bid in the region of £40-45 million. While this is not cheap by any means, the likes of Dayot Upamecano and Jose Gimenez will likely cost upwards of £100 million, which makes this a much cheaper option.
White definitely has the potential to be a top-level centre-back, and it will be interesting to see if he will get the opportunity to continue his development alongside the likes of Van Dijk at Anfield