Jules Kounde: The Answer to Liverpool’s Defensive Crisis?
Just two months into the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, Jurgen Klopp’s side have lost both Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk to season-ending injuries. The absence of the Reds’ two first-choice defenders leaves the reigning English champions with a lack of cover. After selling Dejan Lovren to Zenit Saint Petersburg in the summer transfer window, Liverpool now only have one experienced senior defender in their ranks, and that’s injury-prone Joel Matip. As such, Klopp may seek to bolster his squad in January. So, is Jules Kounde the solution to the Reds’ problem?
The Reds Desperately Need Cover
Rather bravely, Liverpool went into the 2020-21 season with three central defenders. Now, however, they can only call on Matip. That said, Fabinho has proved himself as being able to play in the position competently, while Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams are also viable options. Although Klopp will be pleased to have some cover, there are question marks over whether the makeshift contenders are reliable enough to help Liverpool retain their title.
Because of that, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Merseyside club register an interest in Sevilla’s Kounde. Across many aspects of his game, the 22-year-old Frenchman is similar to Van Dijk. Even though he is smaller than the Dutchman, Breaking the Lines’ comparison between the two shows that Kounde almost matched the Liverpool defender’s aerial duel success rate in 2019-20. Not only that, but Kounde also possesses a passing range that is reminiscent of Van Dijk. The five-foot-ten central defender can switch the play with pin-point deliveries, while also being able to disguise line-splitting balls.
Could Price be an Issue?
On paper, it’s clear to see why the Reds would be interested in recruiting Kounde. However, his arrival would somewhat go against Liverpool’s transfer strategy. In September 2020, Manchester City saw a £45-million bid rejected for the 22-year-old. With Sevilla holding out for Kounde’s £82.5 million release clause, the Citizens instead turned their attentions to Ruben Dias. Given that Liverpool will likely have both Gomez and Van Dijk back for the 2021-22 campaign, spending that sum of money on Kounde in January would be surprising.
However, in the past, the Premier League champions haven’t shied away from spending big in the January window. In December 2017, the Merseyside club spent £75 million on Van Dijk. So, if Klopp sees Kounde as both a short-term and long-term option, then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Liverpool breaks the bank for the Frenchman.
Regarding their hopes of retaining the title, few can argue that Liverpool doesn’t need defensive reinforcements. Klopp’s team's weakness won’t help them battle on all fronts, including in the Champions League. The knockout-formatted competition is one of European football’s most prestigious events, and that’s reflected in its ever-growing pop culture status. At many promotion-offering casinos, which you can go to Bonus.ca and try for free, prospective players can enjoy Football: Champions Cup, which seeks to mirror the all-action nature of knockout football in a five-reel slot. Some fans may jump to have a shot at the Champions League in the meantime while the Reds get the necessary points.
Kounde: A Pipe Dream or Potential Recruit?
Make no mistake about it, Kounde is one of Europe’s most sought-after defenders. Ultimately, that’s why Sevilla can hold teams to ransom if they wish to acquire his signature. While it remains to be seen if the Frenchman is on Reds’ list of targets, his profile undoubtedly fits that of a Liverpool player.