Liverpool still in need of Carragher successor despite Toure signing
Liverpool's signing of Kolo Toure is a temporary fix but Brendan Rodgers must find a long-term solution to Jamie Carrahger's exit
Kolo Toure will temporarily fill the void left by Jamie Carragher but Brendan Rodgers must still press ahead and unearth a long-term replacement for the retired defender.
The Ivory Coast international, who is set to join the Reds from Manchester City on 1 July, boasts a wealth of experience from his spells at Arsenal and the Eastlands outfit after moving to the Premier League in 2002.
At his peak, Toure was one of the best defenders in the English top flight and was ever-present throughout Arsenal’s unbeaten campaign, while racking up 105 caps for his national side.
Liverpool have been guilty of dud free transfers in the recent past, however, Toure has a “winner’s” mentality (11 trophies with Arsenal and City) and is veteran of the Premier League, which are valuable commodities.
However, the 32-year-old should only be viewed as another body to bolster the Reds squad and to be used sparingly while Rodgers sets about finding the rightful heir to Carragher’s throne in his back four.
When the Northern Irishman took charge of the Reds in May 2012, Carragher had experienced a season on the fringes of the first-team as Kenny Dalglish stuck with Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel as his centre-half pairing in 2011-12.
The England international appeared set to end his Reds career in an unfitting understated manner before Rodgers replaced the out-of-form Skrtel with Carragher in January. The club reaped the benefits in the latter half of the campaign.
Liverpool kept nine clean sheets in 16 Premier League outings in 2013, conceding just 12 goals, with vice-captain Carragher present throughout the remarkable defensive run and proving there’s no substitute for experience.
But whilst it highlights Carragher’s influence at the core of the Reds side, it also shows the Agger-Skrtel combination is one which has failed to convince.
Rodgers must resolve the problem this summer.
Uruguay international Sebastián Coates appears to be heading towards the Anfield exit door after struggling to break into the side despite Skrtel’s “worst season” since moving to Anfield in 2007.
It’s hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the 22-year-old’s ability that Rodgers opted against blooding the South American youngster and evaluating a potential partnership with Agger, instead reinstating and sticking with Carragher.
Schalke’s Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos is one name heavily linked with a switch to Anfield this summer and he would fit the Reds profile in terms of Fenway Sport Group’s transfer strategy of investing in youth.
The 21-year-old has already amassed over 100 top-flight appearances in his native Greece and Germany, boasts Champions League experience, and has 16 caps to his name. He would be a signing full of potential.
Rodgers deserves credit for his revamping of Liverpool’s attacking department in recent months, with the Reds now possessing serious firepower in the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suárez in their ranks.
By signing Toure, Rodgers has taken the initial steps in the process of giving his defence a facelift, but the Liverpool manager needs to pull off another transfer masterstroke and recruit a centre-half with a bright future as he looks to fine tune the balance between youth and experience in his squad.