Ragnar Klavan departure leaves Reds short

Ragnar Klavan’s two year old spell at Anfield is over after Liverpool accepted a £2m bid from Italian outfit Cagliari.
Dan Thomas  |  17th August 2018

The Estonian captain has played 53 games during those two years at the club and with him due a medical in Italy on Friday, we are now a central defender down. Though he had his flaws, I liked Klavan. He brought experience to the back four and was strong in the air which has been a weakness of ours at times.

However, with the way we play his lack of pace was always going to be an issue in games against the big teams and I think that was the reason we saw less and less of him as the season went on last time around. He was caught out particularly in the early season league game at Manchester City when Sergio Aguero and co ripped us to shreds.

Klavan was only ever back up and the modest £4.2m that we paid and the sum we’ve received for his sale reflects that accurately. Due to the ongoing injury issues at centre half, with both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip prone to picking up muscle injuries in particular, Klavan has probably played a lot more than we were initially expecting.

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He was limited but I don’t recall too many games where he had a disaster at all. He was solid and unspectacular, exactly the kind of player we need around the club. He will no doubt prosper in Italy with a slower paced game and I wish him the very best.

But his departure does show again how much Jurgen Klopp backs himself and how he is completely willing to allow youngsters to have a path into the first team. I am personally against the sale of Klavan. Not because I think he will play too much, he patently won’t. It’s because we’re currently an injury away from having to depend on either Conor Masterson or Nat Phillips.

I am always happy to see us work with our youth team players, and we all love it when we bring someone through. Masterson has even been on the bench for a Merseyside derby – experience that was also afforded to midfielder Curtis Jones. Phillips played a big part in pre-season, largely because of the effect of the World Cup delaying returns to the club for the likes of Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren.

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So with Lovren out injured and Matip still regaining fitness, are we leaving ourselves short in a crucial position? I would argue that Klavan was a needed 5th choice. With Virgil van Dijk the clear and obvious stand out, we are currently partnering him with Joe Gomez. I think that is a good pairing and we’ll see it a fair bit this season.

The four we have should be enough but Klavan was a “what if?” option and with Lovren out and Matip still short, we’re an injury or suspension away from asking Phillips or Masterson to play.

In the early stages of the cups, I would like to see what they can do but it feels a gamble potentially needing to play a young centre half when we are so, so close to having a squad that can and in my opinion will go for the league. Young players make mistakes, as we saw with Gomez at full back on 4 or 5 occasions last year – we can’t afford to drop many points given the competition we have for that league title.

Again, I respect and admire Klopp for what he is doing. He is blooding youth team players, even if they are just squad fillers. I should have learned now that he generally gets it right. Some of us see selling Klavan as a gamble, others of us not so much but Klopp obviously doesn’t.

At the end of it all, the Estonian has decided to leave in pursuit of regular football and at 32 he needs to be playing regular first team football. It would be easy to sit on the bench or in the stands and collect his money but I applaud him for making sure he goes elsewhere to play.

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