Reds want Klavan to beef up defence

LONDON • With injuries taking a toll and player departures weakening the defence, Liverpool are set to bolster their backline with the £4.2 million (S$7.5 million) signing of the Augsburg centre-back Ragnar Klavan.

Following Achilles injuries to Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez and the loss of Martin Skrtel, recently sold to Fenerbahce, and Kolo Toure (released), manager Jurgen Klopp is keen to bring in the 30-year-old Estonia captain to give him more options.

Klavan impressed against Liverpool for the Bundesliga side in both legs of last season's Europa League quarter-final tie which the Merseysiders won 5-4 on aggregate.

Klopp now has only two fit first-team centre-halves in Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren and even Matip limped off with an ankle injury during Liverpool's 2-0 friendly win over Wigan on Sunday.

The manager insisted afterwards that the former Schalke defender was "fine" but is well aware he needs defensive reinforcements.

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    Years since the last transfer between Manchester United and Liverpool. Reds midfielder Joe Allen is being linked with a move to Old Trafford.

The game, at the DW Stadium, was won with second-half goals from Danny Ings and 16-year-old Ben Woodburn. It was also notable for Philippe Coutinho's return to the starting line-up following his Copa America exertions.

The Brazilian enjoyed a 45-minute run-out in the Wigan sunshine as Ings - who missed much of the last campaign with a knee injury - scored his second pre-season goal in the 70th minute. Soon afterwards Woodburn continued his impressive friendly form with the second goal.

Liverpool started the game with Roberto Firmino and the recent £30 million signing, Sadio Mane, in attack. There was also a glimpse of Liverpool's forgotten man, Lazar Markovic, who arrived in the second period.

While Klopp is clearly in need of new signings, one player who could be heading out of Anfield is midfielder Joe Allen, who surprisingly is being linked to a move to Liverpool's long-time rivals Manchester United.

It has been 52 years since a player was directly transferred between the two clubs - Phil Chisnall's £25,000 move to Anfield from Old Trafford in 1964. Allen could be the next one for the "Special One".

Jose Mourinho has taken one look at his middle men and decided that while the ramshackle collection of ideas that is United's midfield might pass as modern art in some corners of the footballing world, he would rather have a few straight lines and steady performers in there (plus Paul Pogba) who could at least be on the same page once in a while.

Allen is nothing if not steady. But it's fairly safe to say #JoeAllenAppreciationDay might not be remembered so fondly on Merseyside if the little passing machine chooses to walk the line.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Reds want Klavan to beef up defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe