Steven Gerrard admits he wishes Liverpool signed Nemanja Matic

by Leo Nieboer

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has noted that Jurgen Klopp should have signed Nemanja Matic to address his side’s defensive frailties this summer.

The Serbian completed a £40m move to Manchester United earlier this month and was an indomitable force against West Ham United on Sunday, creating a solid platform in midfield for players further up the pitch to inflict a 4-0 demolition on Slaven Bilic’s side.

Klopp, on the other hand, has received criticism for failing to oversee any considerable amendments to Liverpool’s soft defensive underbelly after shipping three goals against Watford on the opening weekend of the season.

And Gerrard, speaking on BT Sport, has admitted that a player like Matic would serve as a way of protecting his former side’s flimsy back-line.

“Right now, I think looking at them from the weekend, Matic is a very good player,” he said.

“We haven’t got a natural, sitting, holding midfielder at the moment. Jordan Henderson has done a fantastic job in there. At times last season he struggled with injury.”

“We’ve got Emre Can as well, but for me they’re suited as well to be No 8s, getting into the box.

“I think all of them players, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can, would all benefit from having a real big monster of a centre midfielder in there who could break up play, who can help Liverpool be a bit more secure when they pile so many numbers forward.

“Obviously I don’t want to create any headlines but I’m a huge fan of Matic. Looking at the weekend, it looks like he’s the right piece of the jigsaw that Jose needs.”

Matic provides a number of things on the pitch: physical presence, composure on the ball, superb vision and a general air of dominance – a kind of stony assertion that, yes, I am in charge here.

Most importantly, however, his influence creates a sense of balance and structure to the entire United side. The enormous amount of ground he covers – basically the gap between the back four and the half-way line – gives others a chance to find space further forward and Mourinho’s men, as seen on Sunday, look more threatening by default as a result.

And Klopp, as Gerrard notes, is miles away from that kind of structure needed for a meaningful challenge for silverware this season.

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