Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho: Liverpool close in on deals
The transfer is quickly coming to an end and it looks like Liverpool will be securing two more additions for their squad in Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori. Interesting to note that both of these imminent arrivals are centre-backs. It shows that Brendan Rodgers has clearly identified his defence as a position of urgent strengthening.
In Sakho Liverpool are signing a full French international. A 23-year-old physical specimen standing at 6”2. He is best known for his aerial credentials, the ability to get above his opposing striker with apparent ease. He is no slouch either, he is as pacey as centre-backs come. This feature of his game is vital if Liverpool continue to play a high-defensive line. For a player so young he is not raw. He has the intelligence, positional sense and calmness of an experienced veteran. Predominantly left-footed he is not adverse to playing as a left-back with pace and his reading of the game being no issue. The Frenchman is also noted for his leadership qualities, a trait that is of necessity in the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
Unlike his future defensive partner Daniel Agger, Sakho is a very vocal defender and isn’t afraid to give out orders to any player when needed. Sakho became the youngest captain in French football history in 2007 when he took the armband for PSG against Valenciennes at the tender age of 17. Make no mistake about it, Sakho is a signing to go straight into the first team. Whether he is going to partner Agger in a back four or join both the Dane and Toure in a back three is a question for the Liverpool manager but nevertheless, Liverpool are signing a top quality centre-back in Sakho. The reported £16m being touted could be a real coup for the reds.
Now onto Tiago Ilori. Three years younger than his impending French team-mate, this Portuguese defender is certainly one for the future. A winger turned centre-back, yes you did hear that right a winger turned centre-back! Widely regarded as one of the fastest centre-backs in world football 6”3 Ilori will have no problem keeping up with the energetic strikers of the Premier League. This statement is backed up by the fact that he smashed Cristiano Ronaldo’s sprint record at Sporting Lisbon, and let’s face it, he’s quite nippy isn’t he? However Ilori is quite slender in build so he will take time to adjust to the swash-buckling style of the Premier League, but he does have age on his side. With amid interest from Monaco and Valencia, Liverpool seemed to have wrapped this deal up for a rumoured £8m. This could be seen to be a hefty price tag for the 20-year old, although like Sakho, he is a player of extremely high potential.
Even with the expected departure of Martin Skrtel to Napoli in the coming days, Liverpool will be well covered in defence with the looming arrivals of the aforementioned Sakho and Ilori. One would argue that the defence would also be improved with these signings. It remains to be seen how these two new players will be integrated at Anfield but at least it puts to bed the worries Kopites had of being thin on quality in the defensive area. Let’s hope with these new purchases Liverpool can be as rigid in defence as they are fluid in attack this season.
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