Alberto Moreno – Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

Alberto Moreno – Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
Jun 14, 2017

Featured Liverpool

With the transfer window upon us soon, it becomes the perfect time to discuss the future of one Alberto Moreno. It is something that hasn’t overly gone under the radar of late – but with manager Jürgen Klopp expected to sign at least five new players this summer, should Moreno be among those out of the club?

The left-back signed for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool in the summer of 2014, for a fee in the region of £12m. The consensus was that Liverpool needed a left-back who could seamlessly play week in, week out. What Liverpool lacked was a mobile, pacey & experienced left-back who had a good defensive capability as well as attacking thrust in equal measure. With the Reds relying on the likes of Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan to fill this full-back void in previous seasons, Moreno was Liverpool’s go-to man.

Many pundits cited the lack of experience in the Merseysiders’ formidable 2013/14 side as a potential factor that contributed towards finishing runners-up – with many hoping that he could be the missing piece in a nearly complete Liverpool jigsaw. The Spaniard was a player renowned for his attacking drive – offering pace, balance and width to a Sevilla side that won the Europa League in 2014.

All the promising signs were there; Moreno opened his Premier League account for Liverpool with a superb, lightning run from his own half, before unleashing a venomous finish in a 3-0 away win at Tottenham in August 2014. Everything looked set for him to become a long-term left-back for the club.

Fast forward almost three years later, and you have a completely different player surrounded by a hostile environment. The 24-year-old’s defensive capability was AWOL on several occasions, with many doubting his professionalism and consistency.

So, the question is – does Alberto Moreno deserve another future at the club? Here are the possible cases for him staying at the club/leaving the club this summer.

Case For

Personally, I feel that some of the criticism that has come Alberto Moreno’s way has been harsh – to put it that way. Yes, the Spaniard has put in poor individual performances, coupled with defensive lapses, but it is fair that he should be scapegoated by supporters?

Without disrespecting James Milner, if Moreno has a good performance, how many people remember? Not many. He offered something different going forward in the cup competitions; against Tottenham in the EFL Cup back in October, he put in a very close contender for Man Of The Match.

Another thing about his suitability. In my opinion, he was misused by Brendan Rodgers and at times Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool. In his debut season, it was clear that he was suited to a wing-back role, and not in a back four. His defensive capability is very poor. That cannot be denied. But in a back three formation, I’ve always felt he could offer something that was absent from our attack in January without Sadio Mané.

Liverpool’s current left-back, James Milner, did a good job at filling in a void that he usually isn’t called to do in his career. Naturally a midfielder, I was myself impressed at the job the Englishman did in the first half of the season – offering experience as well as defensive versatility. Add this professionalism and work ethic to Moreno, and you’d have quite a footballer.

However, towards the backend of the season, his performances were clearly dipping by the eye. This was most notable towards the turn of the year when he looked completely knackered and was in need of a break. Whenever he probed the channels out wide, his lack of pace was exposed – as well as his general toothlessness going forward. He may be more defensively capable than Moreno, but for me, the Spaniard offers a lot more going forward.

Also, the 31-year old has a habit of cutting inside on his right foot in an attacking position. He has become far too predictable defensively, and his final ball has been lacking on several ococcasions. Whereas, in contrast, Moreno created 61 chances last term. That compares to Milner’s 56. On occasions when the Reds struggle to break down deep block defences, Moreno wouldn’t have been a bad auxiliary attacking option.

He can offer pace, balance & width coupled with a good end product – and a more attacking role would ensure that instead of tracking back 24/7 and not having to worry about making defensive errors, he can roam forward and add another dimension to Liverpool’s attack. Why Klopp didn’t turn to him during Liverpool’s poor patch earlier in the season still does baffle me to an extent.

I do feel that he could be a good squad player for Liverpool to have next season. Whilst it’s not looking like he’s going to be a regular left-back, he has proven on multiple occasions that he can perform against the lesser sides/in cup competitions – whether that be in a back three/four formation.

Case Against

Moreno’s detractors seem to have increased with every mistake he makes – with many feeling that he doesn’t merit a future at a club that is looking to take the next step forward and possibly challenge for the title next term. To put it this way; many feel that he can’t do a defensive job at the club. Simple.

Many of the Spaniard’s detractors will tell you that his positioning is suspect defensively and that he runs around like a child in a Smarties factory – and that he turns in too many mediocre individual performances (could take the 2016 Europa League Final as an example).

Another thing to point to is his general decision-making. It’s not to say that he doesn’t have the ability, but at times he seems to opt for wrong choices on the ball going forward/defensively.

A notable example would be in the away win at West Brom last season when he had an empty goal 50-60 yards away from him; instead of opting to pass to a teammate in space, he attempted to smash it in, presumably in an effort to make amends for his earlier mistakes. This was when many fans’ patience reached breaking point with him.

The 24-year-old has had a bad rapport with the fans over the last couple of seasons for his mistakes, and he doesn’t seem to be particularly favoured by the manager, Jürgen Klopp either. When the German arrived in October 2015, Moreno was initially one of those who walked into the team. However, as mistakes got more prevalent towards the back end of the 2015/16 season and the horror show at Arsenal on the opening day, Klopp decided enough was enough.

Moreno was axed the second game into the league season and has never really got a look since then, in truth. He must know by now his future at the club is increasingly bleak – the fact that he was replaced by a 31-year-old midfielder speaks volumes. It’s clear that Klopp doesn’t trust him to do a job in the Premier League week in, week out.

And should another left-back should be signed this summer, Moreno’s future is in serious jeopardy. James Milner is likely to start next season as a second choice, with the midfield already boasting a wealth of options which will hopefully be added to this summer.

Jürgen Klopp’s side already has a very weak defensive personnel – with centre-back and left-back being cited as a position that needs to be improved ahead of next season.

To conclude, I feel that Alberto Moreno does deserve a future at the club, despite a mixed bag over the two and a half years. He is a player who I, as a fan, have a lot of time for. He would offer something different against deep-block sides next season. If he is sold, though, I’m not going to be too annoyed in fairness, considering his defensive errors.

 

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