Despite the consistent success of the club during their pre-season run so far, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Liverpool. The high of hearing that Mamadou Sakho was cleared of the doping charges that kept him out of the Europa League final and the Euro 2016 tournament was met by the low of him suffering an achilles tendon injury. The injury will force him to miss the start of the season but it is still much better than having him suspended for a long time because of the doping charges.
Aside from Sakho’s injury, Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool fans breathed a sigh of relief after scans showed that the ankle injury Joel Matip sustained in the match against Wigan was not serious. The summer has also seen the departures of both Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel, two experienced defenders, who, while not perfect players in any way, had their moments of brilliance during their time at Anfield.
That is why adding Ragnar Klavan is a fantastic move by Klopp and the club. While he isn’t going to be the first-choice central defender when everyone is healthy, Klavan offers a low-risk, high-reward option. At 30-years-old, he will not be any better than he currently is but Klopp can plug him in at any point and the Estonian will be able to hold his own against even the best opponents.
Since he is built like a rock, Klavan is a very physical defender which will allow him to adjust to the Premier League rather quickly. He is strong in the air and capable at defending set-pieces. His confidence on the ball is likely a large reason why Klopp chose to target Klavan.
Another aspect of his that will come in handy is that he can play as a left-back if necessary. While he likely won’t play in that position too much, Klopp may use him there if Alberto Moreno’s defensive issues continue. Even if he won’t offer the offensive firepower of Moreno, having a solid back-line is worth the trade-off.
Klavan’s experience and leadership will be very useful in what is now a very young Liverpool squad. Aside from James Milner, Klavan is the only other player who is not in his twenties or teens. He will be able to take Matip and even both Sakho and Dejan Lovren under his wing and inspire them to be even better.
Also, given the fact that he played in the Bundesliga for Augsburg for a number of years, he should be able to communicate with Matip and Loris Karius in some way despite all three being from different countries.
Bringing a player of Klavan’s caliber for a rather low fee is a great win for Liverpool. He fills a hole in the squad and the off-the-field benefits are another huge plus. Look for him to have a smaller, but still significant impact on the upcoming season for Liverpool.