What Liverpool Can Expect From Potential Defensive Recruits Ben Davies & Ozan Kabak

As the transfer deadline shuts later on tonight, Premier League champions Liverpool are trying desperately to sign up one or two central defenders to help shore things up as they look to retain their title.

The Reds are in need of new defensive recruits due to significant injuries to key centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.

It looks as though Jurgen Klopp has identified two men that could come in today and help bolster his defensive options.

Here’s a look at those two targets… Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak.

Ben Davies – Preston North End

In what is probably a surprising development it looks as though Liverpool are about to sign twenty-five year old Ben Davies from Preston in a £2m deal (Source BBC Sport).

Before The Reds declared an interest it seemed like a straight fight between Celtic and Bournemouth for Ben’s signature, yet as soon as the Anfield side walked onto the scene there was only going to be one winner.

The reason for the small fee is due to the fact that the player’s contract is due to expire in the summer.

A big plus in getting Davies will be that he has plenty of experience in playing in England, although he hasn’t played in the top flight. The fact he’s a homegrown player in UEFA’s eyes is another thumbs up!

When you look at the player’s stats the biggest standout is his ability to make clearances. On average he makes around 4.3 clearances per game. He’s an asset in the air, winning 3.1 aerial battles. He also makes about 1.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions too.

Klopp will hope that he can improve on his 79% passing success rate, he makes around 40 passes per game (Stats – Whoscored). But he does make strong passes from the back that will suit Liverpool’s game.

Davies is very good and powerful in a challenge, often timing his tackles brilliantly. Is left-footed, which is always a bonus when bringing in a couple of centre-halves. He’s intelligent when reading the game and will no doubt thrive given his unexpected move to the English champs.

After a League Cup game against Man City last season, Preston boss Alex Neill selected Ben for special praise:

“I thought Ben Davies was one of a few standouts.

“I thought we had three or four really good players who performed very well and I think Ben was probably the pick of those.

“It was a good performance, they make you defend and the damage generally came down the right for the goals.

Alex Neill Via LancsLive

I think Ben Davies will look to learn instantly under Klopp and establish himself within the team while the regulars are injured. Even if he doesn’t keep his place in the long term, he could be valuable in the short term and Liverpool will only see a profit in his fee if they were to sell further down the line.


Ozan Kabak – Schalke 04

It could be a whirlwind day for young Turkish defender Ozan Kabak, who could go from bottom of the Bundesliga with Schalke to title challenging Liverpool in the Premier League.

He may only be twenty years old but Ozan has already made 63 top team appearances. Plus even though he’s a youngster Kabak has successfully moved from his homeland to Germany without much fuss.

The deal is thought to be a loan move with an option to buy but that will only happen if his current employers can bring in a replacement (Source Sky Sports).

Liverpool gaffer Klopp likes to see his defenders being efficient with ball at their feet and he’ll enjoy that Kabak possesses an 87.9% passing success rate, which is particularly good considering Schalke’s current league position.

Kabak is another player who dominates in the air, winning more than 4 aerial competitions per Bundesliga appearance. He also has a history of being very competitive when it comes to winning tackles. Ozan is also extremely brave and dogged when it comes to marking duties.

The former Galatasaray man is already an international performer with Turkey.

Has the ability and versatility to play in at right-back and as a defensive midfielder, that will be another box ticked for Liverpool.

Ozan Kabak could be one for the future at Liverpool but I’d still imagine that he’d make an impact if he signed for the Reds during this window. Has plenty of scope to improve under Juregen Klopp.

Book Review: Fast Forward

Fast Forward by Andrew Cole

I remember watching Andrew (He doesn’t mention the debate regarding his first name in this memoir but it’s clear that he’s an Andrew not Andy) burst onto the Premier League with Newcastle United in 1993.

He became a star during the glorious early years of the Premier League, moving to Manchester United and playing a huge part in their rich history too.

Yet Cole never seemed to do a lot of press during his playing days, he certainly didn’t crave the media attention that many of his colleagues would seek out. He’d prefer to do his talking on the pitch.

Often people get disturbed by silence, especially from footballers. It can lead to whispering campaigns or conjecture regarding a player’s attitude or their commitment to the game.

Thankfully, Andrew Cole has stepped forward and given an honest account in this biography. His England career, the Teddy Sheringham feud, his battle against kidney failure, that treble winning season, his transfers and manager fallouts are all covered.

Two relevant topics standout for me… Racism and Mental Health Issues.

Cole states that he didn’t really need to tackle racism until he became entangled in the world of football. I don’t think it was particularly overt throughout his career but he’s right when he says that it can often be disguised. For instance when a white player stands up for himself it can be called character, while often if a black player does the same thing then they can be classed a problem. When you look back and really think about it, it’s pretty true and still happens today.

It doesn’t help that too many football managers struggle to get to grips with different individuals, people they can’t instantly relate too. Instead of taking time to know young players (black or white) they’ll usually make up instant opinions. The world and humanity is far more complicated than that and Cole helps to explain that to the reader.

I truly believe we all have our inner demons, some more than others. It’s a battle between ourselves and our minds. Andrew doesn’t shirk away from discussing his own inability to realise that there were other ways to fix problems rather than bottling everything up. Many will read this and hopefully they’ll understand this too.

Andrew does a superb job in hitting all the topics in which a fan would want to hear from him. The highs and lows are covered in equal measure.

There’s also a strong dignity and a healthy dose of respect that runs through this book. Even when discussing people he may have disliked, Cole always finds time to find something nice to say about them or at least understand where they might have been coming from. There’s no assassination jobs here!

When he likes a person, like Sir Alex Ferguson or Roy Keane, then he pounds the pages with admiration. He’s very loyal to all those that he loves. He mentions protecting and looking out for younger players and a tiny bit of research online backs that up.

I came away from this book knowing more about Andrew Cole and the more I knew the more I liked. He’s a lot more grounded than many a player who reached the same levels he did.

Self-confident? Yes but not arrogant. An honest figure that has finally righted a lot of wrongs that were written about him.

Bravo Andrew, a class forward and a stand up gentlemen.

You purchase Fast Forward by Andrew Cole online with Waterstones.

Folly From Celtic Boss Neil Lennon To Throw Vasilis Barkas Under The Bus

Celtic have chop and changed their goalkeeper all season.

New signing Vasilis Barkas hasn’t come in and commanded things straight away. Scott Bain has plenty of experience in the Scottish Premiership and while decent, he isn’t a standout keeper. Even young third choice Connor Hazard has had a shot in between the sticks but he doesn’t seem to be the answer.

Just a few weeks ago Celtic boss Neil Lennon commented on the goalkeeping position, bringing Greek shot-stopper Barkas back into the starting line-up:

“We have big games coming up and I want Vasilis to play in them.”

“He has come in as number one and I want him to play.”

Lennon via BT Sport

Yet after just two games the international keeper was once again been bombed out of the team as Bain had the number one jersey for Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hamilton Accies last night (BBC Match Report).

Now I have no issues with Lennon dropping Vasilis, that’s his job after all.

I just don’t like how he has done it.

Don’t make an issue of him being there for the big games and then drop him after a few weeks and don’t publicly slate him either:

“We went with Vasilis but I don’t think his performances have merited him keeping his place.”

“I think he needs more time to develop to the rigorous of the game here. He needs to physically develop a little bit more as well.”

Lennon Via The Scottish Sun

I think it’s always better to have private discussions with players when things aren’t going as you’d want but keep those thoughts and talks private. I don’t think picking holes in Barkas game publicly serves the player any good whatsoever.

Celtic fans have also been a bit critical of the Greek goalie so far this term and all Neil has done here is hang Vasilis out to dry and made him a scapegoat. It actually feels like Lennon has offered the new signing up as a sacrifice to take heat off of himself.

I’m currently reading Andrew Cole’s autobiography and he is so enthusiastic whilst discussing how great Sir Alex Ferguson’s communication skills were. He specifically says that his gaffer would dig players out in the dressing room but never in the glare of the media spotlight.

Neil Lennon went on to comment on Scott Bain coming in and he hardly boosted his confidence either:

“So I’m going with Scott for the experience. To be fair, he hasn’t let us down too much in the league.”

Wow!

To be honest, this has all come about due to negligence from the Celtic board, recruitment team and management staff.

They clearly wanted Fraser Forster to come back permanently and were flummoxed when he didn’t choose to go down that road.

When they identified Barkas as a possible target they should’ve done more to keep Craig Gordon on their books as he has title winning experience and if Barkas did struggle to settle in, then the Scottish international could have offered more assurance.

And if Vasilis isn’t up to the ‘rigours’ of the Scottish game by now, then you have to ask why the coaching team haven’t got him up to scratch by now!

For me, Neil Lennon has thrown Vasilis Barkas under the bus publicly and I just don’t see that being in Celtic’s best long term interests.

Book Review: In Search Of Duncan Ferguson

In Search of Duncan Ferguson by Alan Pattullo

I wasn’t expecting to read a book about footballing legend (or is it myth?) Duncan Ferguson and actually get the feeling I was reading about a determined sleuth taking up a cold case and hunting for a missing person.

Yet that’s the vibe I got from this paperback.

Author Alan Pattullo is dogged and methodical as he leaves no stone unturned when finding out about all the aspects that shaped ‘Big Dunc’s’ career and life.

Former pals, teammates, managers, employers and even a sheriff and a few former Barlinnie workers are tracked down to give insight.

Pattullo, you sense, gave much of his life (in that period) to his illusive subject. He treads the line of bias well, never straying into love nor hatred of the tall striker. Having like Alan watched Ferguson’s career from afar for the duration, I know I’d have been in awe of the character and that would’ve ruined any prospective book I’d have written about him.

There’s two constant narratives that runs throughout and they are… Self destruct and failure to reach full potential.

Being great or fantastic ‘on his day’ is a quote that various footballing figures mention consistently. While Ferguson’s charge sheet on and off the pitch is there for everyone to see.

I feel we could have heard a bit more about the injuries taking a toll too. They unquestionably hampered Duncan’s career and are mentioned in the book, but the man himself has stated it was a huge factor that stalled his footballing life. Now he did mention that long after Alan completed the book, so all in all it’s maybe Ferguson’s own fault for it not making as big an impact on the pages as he never consented in giving his views to the writer.

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1990s, I of course remember the famous head-butt that would lead to Ferguson serving time behind bars. It was a long drawn out process but Pattullo excellently covers it here. I particular like that the victim of the piece Jock McStay gets a chance to tell us his side of the drama, even at the time you felt he was seriously overlooked and somewhat shunted by Scottish football.

Does this book miss Duncan Ferguson’s voice? I actually don’t think it does.

I think Alan Pattullo’s account is accurate and well balanced. Ferguson’s lack of involvement actually gives the pages more intrigue and you understand even more that you can watch a footballer throughout his entire career and gleam very little about the man under the strip!

Going back to the missing person analogy; the gallus gumshoe seems to find the skeleton early on, then forensically adds the flesh and features on but in the end never truly find out the person’s true feelings and personality.

The book essentially allows the reader to reflect on the career of the cult-like Scottish striker and come up with their own conclusions.

A fascinating read!

In Search of Duncan Ferguson is available at Waterstones.

A Dembele Loan Deal Could Bring Man United Closer To Premier League Title

Manchester United have been continually linked with French international wide-man Ousmane Dembele in recent transfer windows.

Football365 have once again reported that United are interested in the international winger this January.

I think if the Old Trafford club can thrash out a loan deal, with an option to buy, then they could be in a better position to fight of this season’s Premier League title.

After a slow start to the current campaign, United have been in great from since November and are now leading the title race (Although rivals Manchester City have a game in hand).

United’s attacking options have been bolstered with the addition of an experienced hitman in Edinson Cavani, to compete with Anthony Martial for the main striker’s role. Marcus Rashford seems to have nailed down that left wing spot, while maestro Bruno Fernandes is pulling the strings as the club’s number ten.

There seems to be a bit more concern with the right side of attack.

Paul Pogba can perform well in there but he’s more naturally suited coming from deeper midfield positions rather than pinning back opposition full-backs.

Personally, I believe Mason Greenwood is better as a central striker and often looks a tad bit lost when asked to fill in on the right flank. Welshman Daniel James doesn’t offer enough consistently to make that position his own.

It seems like Jesse Lingard’s time is up as a Red Devil and I don’t think new recruit, eighteen year old, Amad Diallo will be used a huge amount this term.

So all in all, I can see why some Man United fans and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would possibly want to add another winger to the squad.

In Dembele, they’d be getting a player with undoubted pedigree.

Along with Pogba, he helped France to their World Cup triumph in 2018. His electrifying performances for Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17 convinced Barcelona to pay out around £135m for him (Source BBC Sport) as they saw him as an ideal replacement for the departed Neymar.

Dembele can burn up pace on either wing and also possesses the skills to beat defenders. He has the ability to get into dangerous positions and put away chances. Even as he’s struggled to keep down a place at Barca, sometimes due to injury, he’s still scored twenty-five times in ninety-three outings.

The ever emerging Ansu Fati is only going to make things harder for Dembele at Camp Nou, as he searches for more starts.

France will be gunning for the Euros in the summer and Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps has stated that he knows just what Dembele can do but he needs to regain his full fitness:

“We must give him time. I know what he is capable of. He had physical problems, but now it is up to him to find his full potential.”

Didier Deschamps Via Football-Espana.com

A change of scenery could be the making of Ousmane as it could provide him with a platform to show that he can be a world class talent.

If Ousmane Dembele were to do that at Old Trafford, then he would enhance Manchester United’s frontline and also there chances of claiming major silverware again!

Lampard Needs Win Over Foxes, Could Be A Brendan Rodgers Chelsea Audition

No one will know just how ruthless Roman Abramovich can be when Chelsea’s managers struggle to get positive results as much as current incumbent Frank Lampard.

Given Chelsea’s recent run of form and their seventh position in the Premier League, the Blues boss must be looking over his should with a wee bit of dread in his occupying his mind.

Chelsea spent big in the summer and haven’t really seen a great return for their money, although time is still their for these new recruits to make their mark at Stamford Bridge but that time might not be extended to club legend Lampard.

The Blues boss probably didn’t like hearing Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl criticising how he has used major summer signing Timo Werner:

 ‘I know Timo very well and I have seen him in situations where he was not good.

‘Most of the time when I have seen this is because of the reason that the game doesn’t fit to him. The team didn’t play in the way he can bring his best on the pitch, I think.’

Hasenhuttl via Daily Mail

The London giants have so far really struggled against fellow top eight sides. Tonight they come up against Leicester City (BBC Match Preview) and the Foxes have once again performed fantastically well and find themselves in third spot.

It might actually be seen as a must win game for Lampard, if they lose they will fall nine points behind their opponents.

Chelsea have a superb squad full of talented players and a great crop of youngsters.

In the opposition dugout will be Brendan Rodgers, a man that might be seen as an ideal replacement if Abramovich decides to remove Frank from his position as manager of Chelsea.

At Leicester City, Brendan Rodgers has consistently got every ounce from his team. They narrowly missed out on the Champions League places last term and are once again flying high in the league during this campaign.

Before going to the East Midlands, Rodgers also enjoyed a trophy laden spell at Celtic in the Scottish Premiership and was probably the man that got Liverpool believing that they could start challenging for major honours again.

Rodgers has belief in talent young players and isn’t scared of playing them if he feels they are ready to implement his style on the pitch. His teams play with intensity and with an attacking flair, those are qualities that we know Chelsea owner Abramovich looks for in his ideal candidates for the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge.

If Leicester City were to out play and beat Chelsea tonight it might persuade the Blues hierarchy that it’s time to change the management time once again. It might also show them that their new gaffer could be their former youth coach, Rodgers, and not world renowned free agents Massimiliano Allegri or Thomas Tuchel.

For Lampard, he needs to get any of these rumours out of his head. He needs to figure out his best team and get the most out of them, starting tonight!

Beat the Foxes at King Power Stadium and that could be the boost that kickstarts The Blues season.

Look at current league leaders Manchester United, they were looking dead and buried before November.

A winning run starting tonight could have Chelsea clambering up the Premier League table, the confidence to beat the high performing opponents and it could also see them set up to challenge for the Champions League title.

It really does feel like a defining moment for Frank Lampard and his spell as Chelsea boss. If it goes the wrong way, then it could also define Brendan Rodgers future too.

It should be a classic match!

Book Review: Danish Dynamite

Danish Dynamite by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen and Luke Gibbons.

Books can be a wonderful tool to take you back in time and help you learn about an era that you didn’t really know existed.

As a kid born in the eighties, I became interested in football domestically in 1989. In 1990 I watched my first World Cup and my love for the game became everlasting.

So I remember when football was clean of the internet; where you only discovered certain players, styles and countries on a two or four year cycle via European Championships and World Cups. You no longer get that feeling of discovery within the beautiful game… Or so I thought.

This book took me back to the 1980s and had me learning about a swashbuckling team I had only vaguely heard about before I read ‘Danish Dynamite’.

I had always loved the Danish kits, was a huge fan of Brian Laudrup growing up and loved the story of the Danish players coming away from their beach holidays to win the Euros in 1992. But I hadn’t known what went before them.

The authors of this book detailed Denmark’s footballing history before the 80s. I hadn’t realised that the Danes remained fiercely loyal to the amatuer side of football for so long and were for a significant time whipping boys of international qualifying groups.

The way the book is written is reminiscent of the playing style of the Danish team that they were writing about. At parts it’s a slow but accurate patient build up. That will then quickly burst into life with bombastic language to describe glorious games like Denmark’s 6-1 win over Uruguay in the 86′ World Cup or a vintage goal scored by a stunning world class player like Preben Elkjaer.

I particularly loved how they describe the roles of midfielders Klaus Berggreen and Jens Jørn Bertelsen:

‘Tactically astute midfielders who selflessly carried water so that the likes of Elkjaer and Laudrup could walk on it.’

Every player of that era seems to get his rightful place within the book and boss Sepp Piontek’s influence on them is reinforced throughout. It also describes how the squad and the manager changed the Dnaish footballing culture forever and how it captured the hearts of it’s fanatical support.

This really is a very long love note to a bygone era and a football team that really caught the imagination. It even managed to make me fall in love with that Danish Dynamite team thirty odd years later!

As the book says, we love to look back and remember the almost men and the ones that caught our attention through skill and passion. That particular Denmark team only knew one way to play football, by entertaining and going all out. That would prove to be their downfall but it’s why the story still resonates and why they’re such a great choice as subjects for this wonderfully written book.

They say don’t buy a book based on the cover but a big part of my purchase was based on the splendid cover that spells out Denmark without the use of letters. It’s looks splendid on your bookcase but the detail inside has you clambering to read chapter after chapter.

Danish Dynamite is available online at Waterstones.

(Note on the picture – I was extremely fortunate to possess the ideal blanket that just goes ideally with the front cover of the book!)

Brazilian Duo Alisson & Fabinho Currently Carrying Liverpool’s Title Hopes

Much has been made of Liverpool’s fantastic front three in recent years. Yet The Reds defence was just as significant as they claimed their first Premier League title last term.

This campaign hasn’t gone just as swimmingly for the front three and that has meant that more pressure has been shifted onto the team’s backline.

Injuries to centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez plus the sale of Dejan Lovren in the summer has impacted on their chances of doing well in that area.

With Joel Matip also succumbing to injury, Liverpool’s defence as of late has been very makeshift. Having two regular central midfielders (Fabinho and Jordan Henderson) in the heart of their defence for their huge clash with fellow title challengers Manchester United was far from ideal.

Liverpool managed to hold out and grab a 0-0 draw (BBC Match Report) with the current league leaders and that might actually be seen as a confidence booster as it keeps them in the hunt as they wait for more reinforcements to come back and help out the rest of the squad.

The Reds have two Brazilians to thank for keeping that important clean-sheet today and that’s Fabinho and goalkeeper Alisson.

Fabinho has played in central defence a few times already in his career but he’s mainly seen as a holding midfielder via coming onto the scene as a full-back.

The vital qualities that he brings to the heart of the defence is composure and intelligence (in my opinion).

He’s a player that gets rarely flustered. The twenty-seven year old doesn’t rush into challenges and he always seems to pick up great positions to snuff out chances.

At centre-back Fabinho still sees plenty of the ball and against Man United he made 76 passes, completing 91% of them!

The midfielder turned centre-back also won both of his key tackles that he had to make at Anfield. Plus he is decent when the ball is in the air also.

Last month his manager, Jurgen Klopp, praised Fabinho for his inteliengence and being an organiser at the back:

 “Fab is, I wouldn’t even say a defensive-orientated player, he’s an organisation-orientated player. He is very strategical.

“I don’t know what he played in his youth in Brazil, by the way, I didn’t ask but for Monaco he played quite frequently at right-back and for the national team he played right-back. Then he played one of a double six.

“I’m not sure if he played centre-half before, probably yes. He just is able to do that, you can see that in different situations that his challenging skills are just outstanding, defensively on top of that.”

Via Liverpoolfc.com

Any trouble that Fabinho couldn’t sweep up, well that’s when compatriot Alisson stepped up to show his worth.

The Brazilian number one is for me the best keeper in the Premier League and I think that he proved that fact today during the second half against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

He got gown well to divert a Bruno Fernandes effort away from his goal-line, then he blocked Paul Pogba from pointblank range and rushed out at a corner to prevent Marcus Rashford getting a solid shot away.

A shot-stopper like Alisson is worth his weight in gold and that’s why Liverpool won big trophies since he arrived in Merseyside. The goalie along with Fabinho and Henderson were the ones that stopped Man United moving six points clear at the top.

Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get a few faces back from the treatment table and he’ll also be hoping that his front three can find their scintillating best form once again.

If those two things can happen and Liverpool can charge towards a second title in a row, then they’ll definitely have to thank Brazilian duo Alisson and Fabinho for being consistently brilliant and keeping them in the hunt during what many might see as Liverpool’s lean spell this season.

Book Review – Ronaldo! King Of The World

Ronaldo! King Of The World by Wensley Clarkson

This book reminds me why I like autobiographies compared to a writer analysing a subject.

If you want to know more about Ronaldo’s early years and relive his struggles from the World Cup 1998 then this could be for you.

Getting into the book I became instantly aware that the author (Wensley Clarkson) seemed to enjoy the gossip and the salacious side of a young Ronaldo. He likes to get into the murky side of the football industry, which can be quite telling once you realise Ronaldo was essential sold off to two agents as a young teen. Wensley also seems to enjoy learning more about the Brazilian forward’s love life going from a nervous youngster into a top professional footballer who could pull models. I quickly googled the author and wasn’t surprised to see he mainly focuses on true crime stories.

It is interesting to see how Ronaldo was so dependent on his mother even after he became a worldwide phenomenon, although it’s not surprising as he had to grow up so quickly and without proper guidance in so many ways.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning more about my footballing hero, I did, but at times you want confirmation from the man himself. I also felt that Mr Clarkson glossed over a few footballing highlights. The year at Barcelona all seems to be doom and gloom without focussing too much on the goal laden part of it. While Ronaldo’s sensational UEFA Cup final performance against Lazio for Inter was condensed down to one sentence.

The big focus and most of the book builds towards the summer of 98′ in France. It does take you back to that time and you start to remember just how big Ronaldo was at that time and then remember he was just twenty-one!

The redemption story of 2002 is covered but it’s rushed compared to 1998 and that didn’t really sit well with me.

It leaves you wanting Ronaldo to bring out an extensive autobiography but it’s worth a read for anyone who wants to relive Brazil’s failure at France 98′ and get a feeling of just how much pressure Ronaldo was under during that period.

The Dutch International Defender That Could Boost Spurs Or Liverpool Title Hopes

Copyright – Ligue.com

Both Tottenham Hotspur and current Premier League champions Liverpool will be hopeful that they can add silverware to their trophy cabinets this season, as they’re both still well placed in numerous competitions.

Yet when you look at both of the side’s squads, they could probably do with another capable centre-half.

Liverpool have clearly being missing the influence that comes with having Dutch international captain Virgil van Dijk in their backline as he has been missing for a fair amount of this campaign due to an ACL injury. It was initially feared that the defender would miss the rest of the season (Source Talksport) but he could possibly return ahead of schedule.

As well as having Van Dijk, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will know that fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are also pretty injury prone (Gomez is also currently out and Matip has missed recent fixtures too).

In Liverpool’s last league outing (a loss to Southampton) they started with midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson as their defensive duo.

At Tottenham Hotspur, they have an experienced centre-back in Toby Alderweireld but the question this season has been who to play beside the Belgian?

I don’t believe Jose Mourinho fully trusts Colombian international Davinson Sanchez, who does seem to have a few mistakes in him. Joe Rodon arrived in the last transfer window from Swansea City but he has only made one Premier League appearance since is arrival. I don’t think that means the end for Rodon, just that Jose believes he might not be ready for the English top flight.

Englishman Eric Dier has dropped in from midfield to play as Alderweireld’s partner at the back in fifteen league games so far this season. The England international started his career as a centre-back and hasn’t looked out of place there but you do wonder if Mourinho would like to add another defensive face to strengthen up numbers as Spurs head into the second half of the season.

A name that might be on both Liverpool and Tottenham’s radar could be Lille OSC defender Sven Botman.

The twenty-year old joined the Ligue 1 club back in the summer and he has impressed with his displays in heart of their defence.

The towering centre-half commands his penalty area whenever the ball enters via crosses. His aerial ability has really caught the eye. On average he wins around 3.7 aerial battles per league game with Lille (Via Whoscored).

He also seems to take him time in making the perfect challenge. The young defender isn’t blessed with electric pace but his intelligence and his diligence makes up for that as he picks his moment to make the tackle.

Sven also uses his strength well in bullying opponents while on the ball and taking it off of them too.

The Dutch player is also composed when in possession and he has a passing success rate above 86% during his first nineteen league games in France.

He can play on the left side of the defence which might suit the likes of Alderweireld and Van Dijk.

Their experience would also allow Botman the chance to shine. Current Lille boss Christophe Galtier praised Sven and how he has been able to listen to and learn from experienced partner Jose Fonte:

“The fact that he has an experienced player alongside him in José Fonte allows him to be led, guided and ensures he is in the right positions, and he is very receptive to the little corrections we make to his game during the week in training,” 

Via Ligue1.com

Quite a few of Jose Mourinho’s backroom staff used to ply their trade at Lille, so they’ll have the contacts to find out more about the player. While Botman’s performances in France has seen him win a call-up into the Netherlands senior squad, so Georginio Wijnaldum will have first hand insight into the youngster.

Sven Botman does seem to be a player that can come in now and help out either Liverpool or Spurs as they head into vital times within their seasons, especially if more injuries crop up. But he’s also one for the future and then you have to remember the current financial strain Lille might be under.

The Ligue 1 side were recently sold due to financial issues (Via Get French Football News) resulting from a collapse in the TV deal and with Covid-19. That could mean that the new owners might decided to cash in on a few players to put the club on a better financial footing.

I am guessing it would definitely be worth the time of Liverpool and Tottenham’s scouting departments to run the rule over the young defender and ask if a deal can be done?