Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno is reportedly close to a summer transfer to Lazio after enduring another season on the periphery of Jurgen Klopp’s first team.
It is safe to say that few Liverpool fans will shed a tear to see him go after a five-year spell on Merseyside.
The Spanish full-back has contributed little to the club since his £12 million transfer from Sevilla in 2014; however, his tenure at Liverpool serves as a constant reminder that standards should never be allowed to sink so low again at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
This may appear a dramatic summation, and the Spaniard is by no means the worst defender the club has had. However, the big issue with the likes of Moreno; was the acceptance, by some on the touchline, studio and terraces, of this inferior level of competency that yielded errors, uncertainty and failure.
Moreno’s arrival coincided with a defensive nadir for the club and his presence exacerbated a problem rather than fixing it. Lapses in concentration, awful positional awareness, and clumsy tackling were evident on an almost weekly basis.
To make matters worse, there were some who were willing to endure these critical defensive flaws as a payoff for the former Sevilla man’s pace and enthusiasm to get forward and contribute offensively. While there is no doubt about the athleticism of Moreno, a handful of forays forward in a match are surely no compensation for a defender who cannot actually defend adequately.
There is no coincidence that the club shipped 108 league goals between 2014 and 2016, with the hapless Spaniard in their rearguard. He became a clear and obvious target for opposition teams to exploit as he often left his flank virtually unguarded. For good measure, you can also throw in a performance in the Europa League final in 2016, which boarded on industrial sabotage as he cost his side some much-needed silverware.
To make matters worse for Liverpool as they watched their top six rivals fade away into the distance; there was no clear and obvious end in sight for the tenures of these defective players Moreno seemed to encapsulate perfectly. Managers and coaches seemed happy to pick Moreno and some of his other shoddy colleagues despite the obvious risks and almost guaranteed lapses at key moments.
This was a massive issue at Liverpool during their 2009 -2015 malaise. The likes of Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel were allowed to play over 500 games for the club, despite a catalogue of defensive mistakes and continuing disarray at the back. Both defenders had admirable qualities and could chip in going forward, which seemed enough for the likes of Rafa Benitiez, Sir Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers to persevere with them in defence.
As these players were signed and woven into the first team, there was piecemeal watering down of the required quality at the club. Throw in Moreno, Dejan Lovren, Jose Enrique and Javier Manquillo into the mix and you can see how quickly and dangerously the defensive standards plummeted.
It would be unfair to pin all of Liverpool’s defensive failings during that time on one man, or on individual errors. However, brick by brick, the club’s defensive strength was undermined by substandard players being accepted and given time to weaken the club’s chances on the field.
This culminated in the mess that Jurgen Klopp inherited back in October 2015 when a real jumble sale of defensive players furnished the club, none of whom truly inspired or offered hope that they could be a long term solution.
Liverpool has slowly but surely rectified this half measure transfer policy in the defensive department over the years since the German was appointed. Andy Robertson’s welcome installation at left-back has seen Moreno slip out the team and confined to the odd cup game.
Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson have also added steal to what was a porous and unreliable back four. This trio of signings has seen the clubs standards rise back to where they should be.
Given Liverpool’s hard-earned status as Premier League title contenders and Champions League heavyweights, Alberto Moreno seems something of an anachronism, a by-product of an era when a club with huge ambitions accepted nearly men and liabilities in the transfer market.
His pending departure is necessary, but so too is the need for the club’s hierarchy to remember the time when sloppy standards and poor players slowly became the accepted norm at Liverpool. If they are to achieve their lofty ambitions, they must remember the likes of Moreno as an example of how not to conduct their transfer business in the future.