Does LFC need a regista or a destroyer?

There was a time I didn't mind Real Madrid.

Blasphemy, I know.

Hierro passes to Makelele, gives to Zidane who does ballet and pokes it into the path of a galloping Raul... And the commentators short-circuited.

The name in the middle, Claude Makelele, was only launched to superstardom after joining Chelsea and utterly bossing the midfield in the Champions League for them. His game was about cutting out passing lanes, hunting intruders, taking the sting out of the game with a clever foot on the ball, and mostly playing the simpler passes to the artistes ahead of him.

These days, we'd call him a number 6.

His latest incarnation, N'golo Kante, has arguably taken it up a notch, adding three-lunged pressing to an already unbeatable package of simplicity, steel and skill.

By being N'golo Kante.

But on a dusty Turin training ground a few years ago, Antonio Conte toyed with putting ageing puppet master Andrea Pirlo into the deepest midfield slot. This would allow the maestro to show off his full array of passes without being encumbered by constant pressing, while the then-youthful Arturo Vidal, Kwadwo Asamoah, Claudio Marchisio and a still-youthful Paul Pogba did the hard running around him.

Brendan Rodgers saw this happening and sniffed a solution to his Gerrard problem - the great man was still the best passer in the team, but didn't have the legs to survive the high-pressing game. And so was borne what Rodgers called the quarterback position.

It worked in an attacking sense, but defensively we were frail for the lack of midfield cover, and whether Jordan Henderson is defensively much better will be the subject of eternal debate between myself and Ilija Dujovic.

He couldn't half hit 'em.

Emre Can has played the most minutes of any midfielder under Jurgen Klopp besides James Milner, most of it in a version of this number 6 role. With Can seemingly headed to Turin, Klopp is scratching his head over replacements, or at least I imagine he is scratching his head. He could be stroking a cat, or biting his nails.

What's clear is that he's after a replacement for Can, and a heavy upgrade of the number 6 position. So far we've been linked to players like Jorginho and Max Meyer, former playmakers who added game-reading skills and some tackling to their repetoire as they transitioned to the pivot, and Wilfred Ndidi and Lucas Torreira, who while certainly not lacking any of the technical niceties, are chiefly defensive bulldogs.

Assuming Klopp did not strike an oil well, we can only choose one.

The case for Torreira

He has a picture with Luis Suarez.

Not convinced? He plays with Suarez for Uruguay as well.

Still not convinced? He has a release clause of 25 million Euros, according to some reports. Still still not convinced? I'm fast running out of reasons, but to commit a philosophical fallacy, Napoli fancy him as a replacement for Jorginho, so he must be good.

Torreira is eerily like an Italian Kante. Small, quick, strong-like-bull, ruthless tackler, self-renewing mitochondria, and nearly as good at passing and making chances as Jorginho's ilk.

Ndidi is similar, trading in a little passing prowess (he did not start out as a playmaker, unlike Torreira) for invincible prowess in the air. If Can leaves, we will miss an aerially and physically dominant midfielder.

Neither Torreira nor Ndidi are weak passers. They can mix it with the Gundogans and exchange the one-twos and the through-balls. What they do bring, though, is the fortification of our defence and mongrel to our midfield that we have lacked since Lucas. Yes, Lucas, who was a more than competent player for us. Wish he was still here.

With a midfield of Torreira, Keita and Wijnaldum or Nabil Fekir, we'd have a mix of skills that allows Keita and Gini the opportunity to stay forward for longer at a time, but they're also capable of tracking back when needed. It would be nice to have a midfielder that actually allows our attacking midfielders to rest easy knowing their backs are had.

The case for a regista

Jorginho and Julian Weigl are not clueless in defence, either, but are arguaby on the top technical tier in terms of first touch and decision-making.

Despite the sub-heading, I'm not really going to make a case for a regista here, as I feel we severely lack a warrior in our midfield, and as much as I admire these kinds of players, I'd rather we developed Grujic in the role, and Henderson has had some acceptable games in the role this season.

My ideal midfield signings would be a manic defensive midfielder who is eloquent enough to not look out of place at the back of an art class like Torreira, a pure playmaker like Fekir, and a second box-to-box midfield genius like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Expensive, yes, but if we save by activating Torreira's release clause, we might squeeze in with a chance.

After all, Klopp has sold to buy since he has come in. He has earned the right to splurge for one season.

And, yes: this is how I make myself forget about Saturday.

It didn't work.
Powered by Blogger.