Do Liverpool still need another left-back? Or is Moreno capable of improving defensively?
Photo source: Squawka

After a dismal season last time out, Liverpool have certainly focused on improving their defence this summer.

A new deal for Andre Wisdom adds extra competition at right-back, the signing of Joe Gomez bolsters options across the back line, whilst Adam Bogdan's arrival provides Simon Mignolet with real competition in between the sticks.

However, one position yet to be looked at, is left-back.

Last year, things looked good here. Jon Flanagan had just had an amazing season in this role, whilst the arrival of Alberto Moreno from Sevilla meant this was one of the most promising areas on the pitch, with two young players full of potential fighting for a starting berth.

Nonetheless, Flanagan has endured a torrid time with injuries constantly keeping him on the sidelines, his last game for the Reds coming in May of last year after he missed the entire 2014/15 season.

Thus, this forced Brendan Rodgers into throwing Moreno right in at the deep end this season, relying on him as his only real option at left-back, other than Glen Johnson, but the fact that he has been released this summer says everything one needs to know about his performances this year.

Moreno started well, and he will long be remembered for his incredble solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur in Liverpool's third game of the season, a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane.

Passion: Moreno started off well in Liverpool Colours

Yet, he failed to reach this level of performance again in the rest of the campaign.

The 22-year-old is a superb player. He has wonderful energy and is hungry in a tackle, but he is too suspect to committing himself in a challenge and being easily beaten. He has limitless potential at what is still a young age, but he is not the finished article as of now.

Criticism for Moreno has come thick and fast over the season, which is harsh. As aforementioned, he was thrown into the team immediately, given little time to settle in via cameos off the bench or games in the cup. Furthermore, he was relied on far too heavily in his first season in English football, expected to be faultless every game when he was yet to come to grips with the differences between the Premier League and La Liga.

The physical aspects were perhaps what caught Moreno off guard to start, whilst the pace of the league was something he initially struggled with too, though he would show by the end of the season that he is marvellously quick and able to cope with this.

Moreno fares poorly defensively in his first year

However, his defending was below par this season, a statement true to the team in general.

Averaging just three defensive actions per game and committing four errors at the back this year, three of which led to goals for the opposition, Moreno had a difficult first Premier League campaign, despite showing glimpses of his potential. Six yellow cards were picked up as he adjusted to the league's pace, whilst just 47 per cent of tackles were won for similar reasons.

Yet, another contributing factor to the latter is Moreno's general inexperience. The player is only 22-years-old and has only played one full season at the top level as a regular starter in his professional career. He has played a half season with Sevilla in 2012-13, but the following year was his breakout one after the majority of his time at that point had been spent with the club's B team.

Therefore, fans should not have been surprised to watch him make a few errors this season, even if it was not what they wanted to see. It was always going to happen. Moreno needed his experienced teammates to speak to him and help him out, but in a season during which the Reds lacked leaders, it was again hardly a shock that this failed to occur.

Moreno did show this season that he has a bright future. He created 33 chances, the fifth most in the team behind only the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, scored two goals and registered a fairly decent 82 per cent average passing accuracy, good for his first season at a new tempo, all in 28 games.

He brings a wonderful attitude and work ethic to the pitch, willing to fight for every ball, chase every lost cause and win every game. Also, he showed great versatility and tactical understanding to switch to an unfamiliar wing-back role midway through the season, one in which he thrived with his energy and desire to get forward.

Extra competition could prove beneficial

Still, competition for his place would have definitely brought better out of him.

This is not to say that the player did not work hard to earn a starting berth so regularly, but that Rodgers had few other options in the position. If someone else was there to challenge him for that left-back role, then perhaps the player would have committed more to his defensive duties and made fewer mistakes, as a result.

Liverpool should certainly target bringing in another left-back this summer, just to ensure that Moreno and, whoever the arrival is, are fighting for their position and are fully focused throughout games.

He is capable of improving defensively, but needs the competition to allow him to better himself and develop as a footballer. To be given a starting role once again after a poor performance hardly motivates an individual to improve, and this is why Liverpool need another option.

Rumoured transfer targets have emerged, most recently Ludwig Augustinsson of FC Copenhagen, a Swedish under-21 international who has been excelling for his nation in the European Championships this year. He has been important for the team in their run to the final and is one game away from a winners medal now as they face Portugal in the final.

Whether his similar youth and inexperience would be a good option to rival Moreno is another question, but the fact that Liverpool are reportedly looking at another player in this position is a good sign.

They certainly need to up their game defensively if they are to reach the heights of that 2013/14 season again, and signing a left-back to compete with Moreno would be a step in the right direction.

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