Last week, Liverpool were said to have settled on three potential left back signings. All would likely cost the club around £5-10M, and while all appear solid options, none looked a clear and obvious upgrade on Alberto Moreno, suggesting that competition or rotation rather than replacement could be the goal.
This week, another two names have been added to the list. At least if you believe the rumour mongers, with multiple reports that 18-year-old Celtic left back Kieran Tierney and 22-year-old Eindhoven left back Jetro Willems. They join Leicester’s Ben Chilwell, Cologne’s Jonas Hector, and Lorient’s Raphael Guerreiro.
Aside from Hector, all are between the ages of 18 and 22 and could all be described using some variant of the word potential. Tierney’s is largely untapped, as the youngster has just this season broken into the Celtic first team, impressing on his way to 26 total appearances in all competitions this season and registering five assists.
Willems, on the other hand, could turn out to be something of a reclamation project for Liverpool. For a time, he was considered one of the brightest young fullbacks in Europe, but he suffered a serious knee injury last summer that has meant he has only made 10 appearances so far for Eindhoven in the 2015-16 campaign.
Despite that, he’s still managed to score a goal and add two assists since returning to action. All told, Willems has scored nine goals and 27 assists for Eindhoven in 152 appearances in all competitions, impressive numbers for a fullback but in part at least a reflection of the nature of the Eredivisie, where the priority is attack.
As such, any Liverpool fan put off by Alberto Moreno’s tendency to leave space at the back as he ventures up the pitch likely wouldn’t be thrilled watching Willems play week to week. The numbers are there for him, but they’re there for him in a weaker league where he has been asked to play more as winger than defender.
Still, Willems is highly regarded—probably the most highly regarded of any of the five names Liverpool have been linked to at the position—and might offer the most upside. Whether that’s more upside than the club’s current starting left back is another matter, but it’s at least an interesting addition to the rumoured shortlist.
Whether it's Tierney or Willems, though, or Hector or Chilwell or Guerreiro, it’s a shortlist that continues to suggest the club aren’t looking for a clear replacement for Moreno and are instead interested in bringing in a player to compete with him in the hopes that one might develop into something special.