Liverpool are on the verge of securing qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season as they look set to finish in the top four of the Premier League ahead of Arsenal.
The Reds were in a position to challenge for the title, but injuries to key personnel and a lack of quality backups to come in and take their place hurt their chances. One such key absence was of captain Jordan Henderson. The Englishman has been struggling with a foot injury and hasn’t been involved in a long time now.
The former Sunderland man had prospered nicely in his new deep-lying playmaker role for the Reds this season. Sitting the deepest of the midfield trio, Henderson was able to dictate the pace of the game while also offering a shield to his backline. That has been missing from Liverpool’s play since his absence.
While Lucas Leiva has done a decent job in the defensive midfield position, his range of distribution isn’t nearly as accomplished as Henderson’s. And Emre Can seems to be much better operating as a No.8 rather than a No.6 role. So finding an upgrade in the summer transfer window for this position will be extremely important for Liverpool, more so once the additional European fixtures are taken into consideration. Here are three defensive midfielders that Liverpool could target as an upgrade on the current options:
The 22-year old RB Leipzig midfield powerhouse is reportedly high on the shopping list for Jurgen Klopp and rightly so.
Keita has been the driving force behind RB Leipzig’s amazing Bundesliga campaign, that sees them sit in the second place in the table in their debut season, leading to qualification for the Champions League next year. Operating as a defensive midfielder, Keita has chipped in with 8 goals and 8 assists from 30 games. His defensive nous, combined with the energy and the range of passing that allows him to support his more advanced teammates makes him an ideal option to fill in the Liverpool midfield.
Jean Michael Seri
The 25-year old Ivory Coast international has been a revelation for French outfit OGC Nice and has had a major hand in their brilliant Ligue 1 campaign where they are set to finish in the third place in the table.
Seri has operated as a central midfielder and a defensive anchor in the middle of the park over the course of the season and has excelled in both positions. 6 goals and 9 assists from a midfielder who is in the team for safeguarding his defence is excellent returns. The Ivorian has the talent and the ability to control the game from deep areas and as seen, can contribute with goals as well. He may not the be the biggest names out there, but he certainly will be a quality addition to Klopp’s roster.
The 22-year old midfielder from AS Roma was a target for Liverpool in January, but there was no progress made on the reported interests.
Despite his innate abilities, Paredes hasn’t been able to carve out a starting role in the middle of the park for the Giallorossi. As a result, he has been restricted to just 26 Serie A appearances – only 14 of them from the kick-off. In these 26 games, the Argentine has yielded 3 goals and 1 assist.
While his stats in direct contribution to a goal may not be as prolific as the other names on the list, it should be noted that Paredes is often the instigator of the attacks from deep in his own half and is often the person that will have played the second pass before the goal. And his strong tackling and aerial prowess will be an asset while defending. Paredes has the ability to excel at the biggest of stages and if backed properly, he can become a mainstay in the midfield for Liverpool.