December 2, 2021

‘Koulibaly wouldn’t make Liverpool perfect’ – Barnes shrugs off criticism of Reds defence

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The former Anfield favourite admits another commanding centre-half would help Jurgen Klopp’s efforts, but he sees no cause for alarm

Kalidou Koulibaly would not bring “perfection” to Liverpool if he were to be prised away from Napoli, says John Barnes, with the Reds legend of the opinion that too much is being made of supposed defensive faults at Anfield.

The reigning Premier League champions were cut to pieces in spectacular fashion during their last outing against Aston Villa.

A 7-2 defeat in the West Midlands has led to further questions being asked of a risky high line approach that offers opponents hope of getting in behind when countering at pace.

Villa are not the first side this season to expose those weaknesses at the back for Liverpool, with Klopp urged by many to sign another commanding centre-half before the summer deadline passed.

Those calls, which came amid renewed talk of Koulibaly being targeted, fell on deaf ears and Barnes believes the right approach is being taken by a team that does not need to explain its methods to anybody given the success they have enjoyed over recent seasons.

“Conceding more goals has nothing to do with the personnel in the back four, Liverpool are just playing differently,” Reds legend Barnes told BonusCodeBets.

“They’re playing a much higher line because Klopp has tweaked the system and they’re looking to score more goals and are giving away more chances as a result of that. It’s not got anything to do with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez or any other players – they are all fine.

“If you want perfection then of course you could go and get Kalidou Koulibaly and have better players but you’re not going to get perfection.

“Liverpool have lost one game and lost one game last year and one game the year before. This was a bad performance but I’m not getting carried away thinking all of a sudden the wheels have come off, they were fantastic against Arsenal.

“This is not a situation where Liverpool should make any knee-jerk reactions and say if anything is wrong, they were 20 points better than everyone else with a similar team as last year, so I don’t see what the problem is now.

“It was a terrible performance in one game, if this continues you could maybe start asking questions, but nobody will get carried away after one performance.”

Barnes added on the change in approach being adopted by Liverpool: “Klopp feels that he wants to press higher up and win the ball higher up the pitch so the back four are maybe pushing up a little too far, but that’s a chance Liverpool are taking.

“In Manchester City versus Leeds, you look at the way Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guadiola play – they’re willing to take chances and score goals and they’re winning matches.

“Of course you want to not concede goals. Maybe Klopp will have to address that slightly by defending a little bit deeper and not pushing up so high up, though I’m sure the Aston Villa defeat was a one-off.”

Liverpool will be back in action on October 17 when taking in a derby date with Merseyside rivals Everton.