We’ve heard this script before. A relatively unknown veteran comes into the Liverpool squad for a cut-rate fee and vows to secure a coveted starting role. Such was the case last year when Adam Bogdan came in. Despite Simon Mignolet doing everything in his power to lose his position, Bogdan only managed a few cup starts and a pair of Premier League appearances before being banished to the same storage facility we kept José Enrique.
We knew Bogdan was just coming in to make up the numbers, and we know the same about Estonian international Ragnar Klavan. Still, Klavan is sticking to the script, and determined to play in the Premier League, as evidenced by his comments following the first training session in the US:
Everything has happened pretty fast. It was a couple of weeks ago when I first spoke with Klopp. We had a good talk and then things started moving. It was an easy decision for me.
This is a big club so wherever you go at this level you are going to face a fight to secure a place in the team. But I’m ready for that. In fact that competition helps everyone because you have to give your best in training every day.
It’s a great challenge for me. For 22 years it’s been my dream to play in England. I know it’s going to be tough but I’ve taken it on because I really want this challenge.
It’s impossible to say how this timeline fits exactly, but it seems to correspond pretty well with the injuries to Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho. Of course, that’s exactly why we’re bringing Klavan in: for extra cover. Klavan will likely get quite a few games over the course of the year, especially if injuries at center back continue to be a problem.
His optimism and commitment to step up to the challenge is certainly admirable, but equally it’s hard to imagine seeing him as a nailed-on starter when two of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, and Mamadou Sakho are healthy. A healthy Joe Gomez might even be ahead of Klavan in the pecking order.
Still, good luck, Ragnar.