Liverpool’s left back Alberto Moreno divides opinion among the Anfield faithful like no other. The Spaniard has produced a number of erratic, reckless performances for the Reds which has contributed, directly and indirectly, to his team’s defensive frailties in recent times. While the general consensus is to get rid of Moreno as quickly as possible and buy an upgrade over him, Liverpool would be better served should they retain their faith in him and here are four reasons why Jurgen Klopp and co should persevere with the Andalusian.
- Age is on his side
Still only 24, Moreno has time to learn and perfect his trade under the tutelage of world class trainers like Zeljko Buvac, Peter Krawietz and Klopp himself. Judging by last weekend’s Arsenal game, where Moreno conceded a penalty and was castigated for affording Theo Walcott space and time to put the Gunners ahead, it is clear Liverpool’s left back spot is a problem area.
Given Moreno’s young age, it can be argued his defensive flaws can be corrected in the training ground. With news circulating that Liverpool would not dip into the transfer market to buy a new left back points to Klopp’s trust in his own ability to improve Moreno. As Jack Lusby of This Is Anfield suggested, Moreno at Liverpool could be what Marcel Schmelzer was at Borussia Dortmund to Klopp.
When asked about potential transfers after the Arsenal game, Klopp said: “We will see! I think we will try it with training and analyse things.” The German has taken a patient approach to the kneejerkism surrounding Liverpool’s defensive display at the Emirates, adding: “Improvement in my understanding is about training and using the quality you have.”
The Reds could drop Moreno in favour of James Milner for next weekend’s trip to Burnley which will allow him some time to reflect on his recent performances, and figure out ways to improve on them. He is still a big part of Liverpool’s plans, and for a defender his age, the only way now after the dip is upwards.
- Little value to be found in the transfer market
When Moreno signed for Liverpool two summers ago, it was greeted with great enthusiasm and sparked little celebrations among the club’s fan base that had seen the likes of Emiliano Insua, Paul Konchesky, an ageing Fabio Aurelio, Jose Enrique and Aly Cissokho putting in incompetent shifts on the left side of defence. That Moreno arrived at the club having won the Europa League added an extra layer of excitement.
Two years down the road, the club’s fans are terrified at the prospect of Moreno’s name appearing in starting line-ups. Having arrived at a club where he had only Enrique to look up to as a senior compatriot, Moreno started well but gradually his game became more error-strewn. But that doesn’t mean there is a ready-made replacement in the market.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s wisdom of the transfer market might fall into deaf ears these days, but the Frenchman explained why there is little value in today’s inflated market. “There is always demand for new – but new is just new. What is new makes news. But apart from that it makes noise. But the noise is not necessarily always quality.”
Liverpool fans can attest to Wenger’s words using Moreno as the case study. There are suggestions that any new left back will be an upgrade over Moreno, but his recent struggles only point to the unpredictable nature of the market.
- Huge upside in terms of resale value
Liverpool’s transfer policy under FSG has largely centred on buying young players in the hope of turning them into potential world class players and possibly move them on while netting a tidy profit on the initial investment. On-pitch success has been hard to come by for the Reds leading to many criticising the club’s owners of lacking direction in investment and in the transfer market.
Moreno, who was bought as a 22-year-old, can be considered a typical FSG signing: a young Spaniard with plenty of potential and enormous upside in resale value. That Moreno hasn’t established himself as a Spain regular—he hasn’t been called up to the national team after joining Liverpool—could be one of the factors why FSG should be reluctant to sanction his sale.
FIFA regulations state that a club that release their players for international duty aren’t entitled to any compensation which is based on the principle that they benefit from the representation of their players in a national team in terms of increased transfer value, representing a positive financial impact for the club in the event of a future transfer of the player.
Moreno’s three caps for Spain came before he was a Liverpool player, and it can be argued the Reds bought him on the basis that he would be frequently named in Spain’s squad while being a Liverpool player which hasn’t materialised thus far. As a result, Moreno’s value is at an all-time low, but his potential, age and the fact Liverpool now have a manager known for investing in youth provides a potential boost to the left back’s future valuation.
- Moreno is well-settled at Liverpool
Despite enduring a luckless 2016 where his mistakes have cost Liverpool dear in two cup finals among other games, Moreno can be said to be fairly well-settled at Liverpool. Having had to make his way back into the side after being dropped by Brendan Rodgers at the start of the 2015/16 season, Moreno admitted he felt settled at the club.
After a 3-2 win over Aston Villa last season in one of Rodgers’ final Liverpool games, he said: “I couldn’t feel more settled. I’m really happy, not just myself, but my family. We love the club and the city.” He has already played 41 times under Klopp and the manager’s desire to work with him indicates the two of them get along well.
Moreno, who has played 92 times for the Reds thus far in his two seasons, offers an inconsistent yet experienced presence at left back who himself claimed to have settled well at the club and in the city. Given how new signings tend to go through an initial settling-in period, and also the lack of world class alternatives in the market, the chances of an established Moreno turning his lean period into a learning curve and eventual success are better than any eight figure new signing’s chances of immediately hitting the ground running.
As The Anfield Wrap’s Neil Atkinson wrote: “Alberto Moreno is Liverpool’s only senior specialist left back. This is something which has been thought about, and has been accepted, not something that has happened by accident,” there are things worse than not accepting Moreno as part of the club’s furniture for as long as he is at the club.