The Search For Andy Robertson’s Apprentice

Andy Robertson’s £8 arrival from a relegated Hull City in 2017 triggered disbelief, disappointment and pure disinterest from Liverpool fans. Outside of a peak José Enrique, it had been so long since we any of us had seen a competent left-back dawn the red shirt that we had forgotten what one looked like and it seemed like those making the transfer decisions at the club had too…

Andy Robertson being relegated from the Premier League with Hill City after 1 season in the top-flight

The left-back at the time of Robertson’s signing was Alberto Moreno, a man with positional awareness of a bat flying around in broad daylight. Moreno had cost us the Europa League just a season earlier along with several good night’s sleep and had been so bad that Jurgen Klopp decided to play James Milner, a central midfielder, in his position instead for a whole season rather than let Moreno see the first-team again.

Whilst Milner put in some outstanding performances in that position we all knew that it was just a stop-gap until an established left-back came on the market, and we just didn’t believe Andy Robertson to be that left-back. For the first games few months of the season Klopp left Robertson on the bench or out of the squad completely on some occasions, but when Robertson got a run of games he made the position his own and has been a mainstay in the Liverpool team ever since.

His tackling, crossing, defending and speed make him one of the most well-rounded left-backs in the world and Liverpool would not be anywhere near as good as we are now without him. I know there are some of you who will find this hard to believe, but Andy Robertson is not invincible, even though he rarely gets injured or fatigued we can’t run him into the ground, players like Robertson need to be protected from themselves because whether he’s 100% or 1% fit, he will fight to play every game and our lack of another recognised left-back in the squad means that we are often forced to play him at times when other senior players are given a chance to rest. At 26 years old and at the peak of his powers, any talk of replacing Robertson should he laughed of with immediate effect, but what we do need to start looking into is a back up to fill his boots when we need to rest him or have as back-up in if he gets injured. Here are 3 of the candidates who could provide competition and cover for Robertson ranked in order of their suitability to the role.

3. NECO WILLIAMS

There’s no place like home. Let’s start off with a player who already knows the club inside out, 18 year old Welshman Neco Williams. The academy prospect has been in the Liverpool youth set up since the age of six and has already been touted as one of the players who could potentially break into the first team squad next season along with Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones.

Although he hasn’t yet been gifted with a Premier League debut, he has already proven that he is one for the big occasion. Earlier this season Williams featured in an action pack 5-5 thriller against Arsenal and set up Divock Origi in the dying embers of the game to send the match to extra-time (Liverpool won on penalties). Much like Robertson, he’s as good as an athlete as he is a football and a confident runner with the ball at his feet, in fact he might even be a better dribbler than the Scotsman. Whilst he’s adept at playing as a left-back, his natural position is right back and for that reason Klopp might be looking to blood him into the team as cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold instead. With that being said, it would be good for his development to use him in as cover for both players to maximise his game time.

The problem with relying on Williams as a back-up for Robertson is that he might not be ready, there is a massive difference between youth team football and the men’s game and such big step up could be detrimental to his development if it isn’t done carefully. Trent Alexander Arnold was thrown into the deep end and took to it like a fish in ocean, but those were very exceptional circumstances, Klopp probably wouldn’t have made that decision if Nathaniel Clyne didn’t get injured and it’s unlikely that he would be looking to do the same thing with Williams.

Williams could act as cover at left-back during cup games but for games with a lot more riding on them, we’d need a left-back with more experience under their belt to cover an injured Andy Robertson.

Price: FREE

2. JAMAL LEWIS

If Liverpool didn’t already have Andy Robertson at left-back, Jamal Lewis would be exactly the left-back that they would be looking at to compliment Trent Alexander-Arnold’s attacking runs on the otherwise. Unlike Neco Williams, Lewis is naturally left footed and has racked up nearly 100 league games in the Norwich first team. Norwich are firmly planted at the bottom of the table and look a certainty for the drop, but Lewis has carried himself well throughout the campaign and shone through as one of the bright lights on what has otherwise been a season to forget for the Canaries.

Lewis’ lung-busting overlapping runs have become his trademark and his ability to provide width to the attack would’ve have most certainly resulted in more goals had he been playing in a better team. In an interview with BBC Sport earlier this season when asked who the best wing backs in the league were without hesitation he said “it’s got to be one of the Liverpool duo, Trent and Robertson, they’re just so good”. It isn’t a stretch to say that Lewis would jump at the chance to sign for the Reds and learn from the players who he admires and models his game on.

The unfortunate truth is that Liverpool probably won’t be splashing out on Lewis this summer and it’s for reasons beyond his control. If ability and potential were the only determine factors in securing his signature, there would be no doubt that he would be in Liverpool’s ranks next season, but this isn’t the case. Jamal Lewis is a Northern Ireland international, you may be thinking that international experience could only be a good thing but in the case of British players it can become a stumbling block when trying to sign them. The scarcity of young British talent means that there is premium on them and they normally always cost that much more than their foreign counterparts. Gone are the days of signing players like Andy Carroll for £35, in recent years Liverpool have been a lot more shrewd with the money that they outlay players and won’t be looking to pay above the odds to sign Lewis if there is a cheaper alternative abroad. Liverpool’s willingness to sign Lewis will most likely be dependent on Norwich getting relegated from the Premier League and slashing their asking price.

Estimated Fee: £16 million

1. KOSTAS TSIMIKAS

I’ll start by answering the question that all of you are begging to know the answer to, it’s pronounced “Simikas”, the “T” is silent. Now that we’ve got that out of the way I’ll answer the second question that all of you want to know the answer to, “who is he”?

Kostas Tsimikas is a 24 year old, Greek international left-back who plays his club football for Olympiakos. Tsimikas has been on Liverpool’s radar for quite some time now and his development since his loan spell at Willem II in the 2017/18 where he made 33 league appearances and established himself as one of the best left-backs in the Eredivisie. This season Tsimikas has taken his game to new heights and developed the defensive side of his game which was once seen to be a weakness. What sets him apart from the other two left-backs on this list is his experience. Despite only being 2 years older than Jamal Lewis, Tsimikas has already featured in the Europa League, Champions League and three domestic leagues across Europe (Greek, Danish and Dutch), winning the Greek League in 2015/16 and being on course to win it again this year. Whilst the Greek league is not on the same level as the Premier League, Tsimikas’s winning mentality and confidence are just what Liverpool will need on the occasions where Andy Robertson isn’t able to make it into the pitch. His improvement over the last couple of seasons has shown that his performances are trending on the up, and playing back-up to one of the best left-backs in the league is only going to push him to develop further.

Kostas is built in the “Robertson mould” and has made a name for himself in Greece by playing with the same aggression and intensity as the Scotsman. Olympiakos have reportedly been fending off interest from Tottenham, Arsenal and Napoli over the last year but have not been willing to sit down at the negotiation table just yet.

With a rumoured asking price at around £10 million and experience at playing at international level, Tsimikas represents the perfect middle ground between Neco Williams and Jamal Lewis and perfect choice as Andy Robertson’s apprentice.

Estimated Fee: £10 million

Do You Think That Tsimikas Is The Best Choice For Liverpool? Would You Choose To Sign Another One Of The Three Options Instead Or A Different Left-Back Altogether? Do Liverpool Even Need A Back-Up Left Back Or Is The Squad Fine As It Is?

As Usual Comments Are Encouraged!

Here’s A Piece I Wrote About Liverpool’s Last Left-Back Before Andy Robertson, Alberto Moreno. Check It Out!

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