Eight new players are in their first months with Liverpool. How are they doing so far, ten games into the season? Yesterday I wrote about Southampton signings Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. Today it´s time to examine three new defenders: Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno. And in an upcoming entry Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Mario Balotelli will get their early verdicts.
• Dejan Lovren, signed for £20m from Southampton.
Came to Southampton last season and quickly established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. Liverpool tracked him for a long time in the summer and Lovren himself wanted a move to L4. Finally it materialised. The common view was that the Reds had captured a high class defender. Well, at this point it´s still a bit debatable.
The Croatian has not shown the same standard as in the Saints shirt. It started well, though. Against Borussia Dortmund in the last pre-season match he acted as a leader, organizing the defence and playing with composure and self-confidence. He has been a regular since then but his efforts has declined. And in recent matches sunk to a non-acceptable level. He is known for aerial stregth but is not body-checking or getting up properly in duels right now. He misreads situations and is too often outpaced because of it. Perhaps he is not good enough for a team striving to be the best. At Southampton the demands was much lower. Now it remains to be seen if the 25-year old can raise his game and be the much needed boss in defence. Right now I have my doubts, hopefully they can be wiped out - and soon.
• Javier Manquillo, signed on loan from Atletico Madrid.
The 20-year old full back has directly been thrown in at the deep end due to injuries to Jan Flanagan and Glen Johnson and beacuse Andre Wisdom (loan) and Martin Kelly (sold) has left the club. He became the only recognised right back and has made a good account for himself. Not in a fantastic way but he´s been steady and filled the position well.
In his first matches the eagerness and inspiration shone through. He worked hard and participated a lot in attack. He still does but not with the same intensity and quality. A weakness is his positioning and naivety going forward leaving gaps behind him that opponents from time to time has used. His crossing is a bit wayward sometimes.
Like many young players Manquillo´s form is swaying and he needs a rest and will probably get one now that Johnson is back from injury. Age is on his side and if he stays he has a good chance to be Liverpool´s right back for a longer period. He´s got the ball skills, pace and mentality to make it. But he is not there yet. The Spaniard has still a lot to learn but has made a promising start in his new environment.
Alberto Moreno, signed for £12m from Sevilla.
Moreno has copied his fellow countryman Manquillo in a lot of things during his first months in Liverpool. He has been enthusiastic and keen to show what he can do. Especially in attack where he has been like a whirlwind sometimes. Even more whirlwindish than snooker player Jimmy White. Moreno possess frightening pace and combines it with fine technique and courage. His goal against Tottenham was a beauty and proved how dangerous he can be going (running) forward.
But just like Manquillo his performances has been up and down. It´s understandable since he is still only 22. And precisely as his back four compatriot he has his biggest weakness in defending. He is occasionally outmuscled by bigger players and forgets his defensive duties sometimes being stranded high up the pitch thinking only offensively. But the talent is there for everyone to see. He is already keeping left-back rival José Enrique out of the starting eleven and as the season proceeds Moreno will be one of the best fullbacks in the league. That is at least my firm belief.
So the verdict on these three players is that Lovren has under-performed, Manquillo is showing promise and Moreno is already almost established. Perhaps the future will tell another story when:
We Go Again.