The central defender, a position many Reds have identified as the transfer priority this summer, seems to have taken a back seat to the recent dealings with attacking players joining the club. Despite the seeming lack of action on LFC’s side (outside of signing Kolo Toure for an experienced reserve option), there have been some developments with rumored targets (both lightly and strongly linked) that may impact Liverpool’s options if they do decide to further shore up the defense later this window.
Tiago Ilori – Sporting Lisbon – Numerous reports state that the 20 year old has been a target of Rodgers all summer, and negotiations are still ongoing. A signing for £3-5m looks imminent, and U20 Portuguese international appears to be a talent for the future.
Toby Alderweireld – Ajax – The 24 year old Belgian defender also has seemingly been a Red target all summer, but several reports indicated that a move to Bayer Leverkusen was on tap. During these past two weeks it seems that the move to Germany has unraveled with the club balking at the reported asking price of €7.5m. This seems to have left the door open for Liverpool to secure the player if they so wish, and if the price really is only €7.5m (about £6.4m) it seems like a no-brainer.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos – Schalke – The Greek enforcer appeared to be the number 1 defensive target for the Reds at the beginning of the summer, but the Liverpool Echo have since reported that the talks between Schalke and LFC have all but ended due to the selling club valuing the defender around £20m, while the Liverpool believe him to be worth closer to £12m. "Papa" appears unlikely to move to Liverpool at this point, unfortunately.
Ashley Williams – Swansea – The Swans defender was seemingly a top choice to rejoin his former manager in Liverpool, but recently there has not been much smoke about a move to Merseyside. Instead, there seemed to be increasing rumors of the 28 year old being sold to Arsenal, but those talks also seemed to have cooled as Wenger doesn’t value Williams at £10m, Swansea’s asking price.
Douglas – FC Twente – The Brazilian-Dutch center back was all but signed for Newcastle until the Magpies’ newly hired director of football Joe Kinnear vetoed the deal. The 25 year old is out of contract and available on a free, and having recently thanked the FC Twente fans for their support, is actively seeking a new home.
Mamadou Sakho – PSG – As reported by Elizabeth on this site, the 23 year old Frenchman may be looking to move on from PSG, and has verbally mentioned Liverpool as having interest. The transfer speculation seems to stem from fewer first team selections during the club’s previous season under Carlo Ancelotti, but with Laurent Blanc now taking over as manager of PSG the number of opportunities for Sakho may increase, possibly resulting in a change of heart.
Kurt Zouma – Saint Etienne – As mentioned in my recent profile on the LFC youth targets for this summer, Zouma is a very young and promising defender with good senior level experience in Ligue 1. There is much speculation as to where he may end up at the end of this window, with strongest interest seeming to come from the Premier League, most recently Chelsea and Newcastle. Unfortunately, it seems that the link to Liverpool is terminated as his agent has reported to French media that discussions with the Reds have finished. The desired fee is reported to be around £10m, which seems reasonable for a player of his youth, experience, and potential, but apparently a deal could not be struck.
Nicolas N'Koulou – Marseille – The 23 year old Cameroon international has reportedly been subject of a €15m (£12.8m) bid from former Reds manager Rafa Benitez at Napoli. The bid has been rejected, but at that price I imagine that LFC will look elsewhere for a more affordable option.
Off the Board
Stefan de Vrij – Feyenoord – The Dutchman committed himself to his current club a couple weeks ago, and there do not seem to be any rumors of him swaying from this decision. The U21 captain for the Netherlands noted that he just signed a contract extension, so it appears that his intention is truthful, and not just the typical transfer denial most players are drilled to tell the press despite looking for a move behind the scenes.
Angelo Ogbonna – Torino – The 24 year old, who can also fill in at left back, has been in talks with Juventus and there are several reports that he will officially be announced for the club at the beginning of July. The price for the promising Italian defender is rumored to be €8-10m and half of the rights to Italian forward Immobile, who impressed during the recent U21 Euros.
Dejan Lovren – Lyon – Southampton swooped for the 23 year old Croatian defender for the seemingly reasonable price of £6.8m. Hopefully LFC do not end up regretting their failure to move for the player as options dwindle while the transfer window drags on.
Alex Pearce – Reading – Seemingly a product of lazy journalism linking him to his former manager, and a suspicious picture of him appearing next to Ian Ayre during a night out, the 24 year old signed a new contract with his current club and will (thankfully) not be joining Liverpool next season.
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin – Valenciennes – The 21 year old Frenchman has just signed with nouveau-riche Monaco in Ligue 1. Despite some rumors of Liverpool interest during the January transfer window, no further links appeared this summer. I did not see any transfer fee specified in any reports.
With 6 potential targets off the board by signing with other teams, the recent news of terminated discussions with Papadopoulos and Zouma, and the near signings of Douglas and Alderweireld with other clubs, it seems like the situation is growing more worrisome for reinforcing the starting XI with a viable talent to challenge Skrtel for his spot in central defense. My preference at this point would be to sign Alderweireld or Sakho as they both have good experience and seem reasonably priced. N’Koulou seems a good talent but perhaps a bit expensive based on a £12.8m bid not being enough for Marseille to sell. On the flip side, securing Douglas on a free seems like a depth signing, not a challenger to Skrtel. This leads to my increasing worry that Rodgers will be backed into a situation where he views Ashley Williams as the only viable option to provide the reinforcements we need, and I don’t feel like he will add much, and certainly won’t offer enough to fulfill the valuation of £10m. Hopefully Rodgers and Ayre can secure one of Toby or Mamadou before the preseason starts or I will begin my "Hold me, I’m a Red" worry in earnest.