I started reading this article on the Liverpool Echo’s website (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/moreno-save-liverpool-mane-klopp-12491459) with skepticism, and I’m still not sure whether I agree with it or not, but I have to admit it makes a persuasive argument. The idea of pushing Moreno forward has been mooted before but with the absence of Mane any addition of pace to the team would be welcomed. It seems unlikely we’ll see any signings this January so any refreshment to what appears to be a slightly jaded first team will have to come from within the squad. We know Moreno can cross a ball and he has a decent shot on him, his failings are mainly in the defensive side of his game, so could moving him to the wing be a risk worth taking in the current circumstances?
Why Alberto Moreno could help save Liverpool’s season
Jurge Klopp has transformed many careers at Anfield – but would this be the ultimate?
Jurgen Klopp has made a habit of challenging preconceptions since sweeping into Anfield almost 16 months ago.
Not least when it comes to the players he inherited.
He’s transformed James Milner into a left-back. Adam Lallana into a central midfielder. Roberto Firmino into a striker. Lucas Leiva into a centre-back. Jordan Henderson into a holding midfielder.
Then there’s the revitalisation of players such as Dejan Lovren and the emergence of previously unheralded youngsters like Kevin Stewart.
There is, however, one challenge that would prove greater than all combined, not least as it poses the following audacious question.
Can Alberto Moreno help save Liverpool’s season?
Yes, that’s the much-maligned – not least in these parts – Alberto Moreno, the regular whipping boy whose time spent walking his dog has far outweighed minutes on the pitch this season, a mere 56 in the Premier League since October.
Everyone is acutely aware of Moreno’s weaknesses as a defender, the Spaniard more suited to playing wing-back than full-back down the left flank.
That Milner wasted little time in strengthening Liverpool’s back line exposed the lack of discipline and nous that so hampered Moreno last season.
But he is not without value. Particularly going forward.
And here’s the rub.
Following the departure of Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations, Klopp’s men have missed thrust from out wide.
Sheyi Ojo offered some in a brief cameo at Plymouth Argyle last week, but that was about it.
The usual options – Firmino, Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Divock Origi – have all been tried on the flanks, but to play two on the wings suits neither their style of play or the balance of the side, each keen to drift infield.
Curiously, for all the concern over the lack of wide options, it’s interesting to note how many of Liverpool’s recent goals have come from balls from the flank.
Firmino’s brace against Swansea. The rare Lucas goal at Plymouth. Both strikes at Sunderland. And, of course, Gini Wijnaldum’s bullet header to beat Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
Width itself hasn’t really been the issue for Liverpool, with quality having been delivered from both flanks.
The problem, with no Mane, has been a lack of pace. And this is where Moreno comes in.
The Spaniard is quick. That was demonstrated at Plymouth when, on a rare occasion he was given space to push on, he won a penalty.
So why not press Moreno further forward in a left-wing role, even if only a temporary measure until Mane returns?
Liverpool know what to expect when they attempt to overturn a one-goal deficit against Southampton at Anfield on Wednesday in their EFL Cup semi-final second leg.
The Saints have twice kept clean sheets against Klopp’s side already this campaign by sitting deep and clogging the central areas, an approach that has since been replicated by several other teams.
The pace of Moreno will pose a different question. It can help stretch defences and he’ll regularly get to the byline.
He has a decent hit on him, and his crossing is reliable enough.
And, crucially, he’s been training alongside his team-mates day in, day out. They’ll know what to expect of him, and vice-versa.
For example: Moreno on the left, Firmino up top, Coutinho on the right, Lallana in a central midfield role, Wijnaldum and Henderson behind.
Klopp admits Liverpool are not in a great moment as they enter a pivotal period that will shape the remainder of their season and potentially beyond.
The time for a new signing has passed. So if Moreno can do a job for the next few weeks until Mane returns, it would be a transformation worth making and a risk worth taking.