Liverpool are reported to have all but signed Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia with the two parties just left to agree on a fee. The 27-year-old has hardly featured under manager Roberto Mancini this season, racking up just over 200 minutes of game time in the Italian Serie A, and has been allowed to move as a result. But what can Liverpool expect from the Italian international?
Strong but lacking athleticism
Ranocchia is around six foot four, possessing great strength and balance. He’s a natural central defender perhaps more used to a disciplined defensive structure that doesn’t require him to vacate his position all too often, but has become a more athletic centre-back due to the Italian national team due to playing in a back three.
Strong in the tackle, he’s adept at getting his body between the ball and his opponent, and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line. Ranocchia is likely to come straight into the Liverpool side when his transfer does come through, but could find the Premier League difficult to contend with early into his career with the Reds due to the emphasis on work rate and athleticism all over the park.
Liverpool in need of defenders
The physicality aspect won’t be a problem for Ranocchia, but the pace of the game might. The Premier League requires high levels of fitness and constant concentration due to how end-to-end the football is. While the Italian Serie A is a more tactical and slower division, the English top flight is pacey and explosive and features a lot of individual talents capable of winning games on their own.
Liverpool’s defensive record has been poor in recent weeks too, with the Merseysiders conceding two or more goals in four of their last six Premier League games, so Ranocchia’s pending arrival comes at a perfect time. A natural leader at the back, the Italian was club captain at Inter last season, but found himself surprisingly out of favour ever since.
With so many injuries of late, the Liverpool side will be somewhat makeshift given the number of players out of action in the coming weeks so it could be a rocky start for Ranocchia. The deal could still take a number of days to go through, however, as Inter Milan and Liverpool negotiate a transfer fee for the defender. The Italian’s valuation is likely to be around £8M-£15M, and could prove to be a bargain if he captures his Inter form in a Liverpool shirt.
How key will Andrea Ranocchia be for Liverpool’s defence?