As this season draws to a close, attention will soon turn to the summer transfer window as Jurgen Klopp looks to revamp his squad. Liverpool's potential incoming sporting director may hold the key to securing the services of one Bundeslgia star.
After an otherwise disappointing campaign, it is plain to see that the Reds' recruitment chiefs have a sizeable task on their hands as they look to arrest the slide. It is fair to say that this term will certainly not go down as a vintage spell in Liverpool's history, but an argument could be made that it could prove to be a seminal period, with the club seemingly currently between eras.
One task facing Klopp and his staff in the upcoming months is strengthening the Reds' options at center-half, especially with question marks surrounding the futures of long-serving defenders Joel Matip and Nat Phillips. On top of this, a recent tactical change involving Trent Alexander-Arnold may also influence Liverpool's plans.
The homegrown star has, of course, been deployed in a hybrid 'inverted full-back' role by Klopp in the past couple of months, with his adapted position now placing extra demands on Liverpool's center-backs. Essentially, Ibrahima Konate has been called upon to cover for the creative linchpin by drifting wide to stop counter-attacks with the 24-year-old orchestrator often caught upfield.
On the whole, the Frenchman has carried out the role with distinction in recent weeks, however it would not be a major surprise to see Klopp look to bring in some cover. On top of this, he could also look to follow the lead of Manchester City and Arsenal by playing with three traditional center-halves to compensate for Alexander-Arnold's new role.
Instead of playing with a left-back, the Premier League's top two sides have utilized center-backs Manuel Akanji and Ben White, respectively, to allow John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko to venture into midfield. In this vein, although Andy Robertson has performed well in an adapted role of his own in recent weeks, Klopp may well seek to use a left-sided center-back in a back three instead next season.
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One name that has been linked with a move to Anfield this week is pacey center-back Micky van de Ven of Wolfsburg, with the Dutchman having impressed for the Bundesliga side this season. According to the inews, Liverpool's representatives have been tracking the 22-year-old's availability of late, with the defender currently one of Germany's most 'sought-after' prospects.
On top of this, the potential arrival of former Wolfsburg sporting director Jorg Schmadtke on Merseyside could potentially increase the Reds' chances of striking a deal, given the 59-year-old's connections. According to Florian Plettenberg, he will be recruited by Liverpool with a specific brief to focus on the Bundesliga, and his old club could be the perfect place to start.
If one looks a little closer at the 1.93 m (6"4) colossus' numbers this season, it is clear that he has made a major impact for the Bundesliga's seventh-placed side. Van de Ven has been a near ever-present for Die Wolfe this term, making 35 appearances in all competitions and has been one of the German top flight's best defenders from a statistical point of view.
The center-back seems to be comfortable in possession as well, something that is crucial in a Klopp side, given that he would be expected to be able to play out from the back. On average, Van de Ven has passed the ball roughly 48.12 times a game this season, with a pass completion rate of approximately 88 per cent.
Clearly, the emerging prospect has had something of a breakout year for Wolfsburg this season and Schmadtke's history at the club could well prove crucial for Liverpool if Klopp does have designs on signing the defender. With the Reds needing to strengthen at center-half this summer, Van de Ven certainly ticks a lot of boxes.