Do Liverpool need to sign a right back this summer?

Liverpool's pre-season is underway ahead of a 'new era' at Anfield.

The Reds have already dipped their toes into the transfer market with the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, while James Milner, Naby Keita, Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all departed.

It is expected that Liverpool will continue to make changes to their squad before the end of the transfer window, with a new defensive midfielder and a left-sided centre-back among the priority targets.

While less discussed, one area that Jurgen Klopp and Jorg Schmadtke may think about strengthening is at right back, with Trent Alexander-Arnold increasingly being used in a more advanced position and Calvin Ramsey heading out on loan.

Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard is one name that has been linked. At 27 years old and a World Cup winner, the Frenchman wouldn't come cheap — with some reports suggesting a £40m price tag plus high wages — so do Liverpool really need him, or anyone for that matter, this summer?

What are Liverpool's options at right back?

Liverpool's number 66 is a one special player. At the back end of the 2022/23 season, Klopp trialed Alexander-Arnold in a new position, one that saw him drift into midfield whilst in possession — then back into defence when out of it — as part of a new 3-2-2-3 system. It was a tactical shift that saw the Reds win seven of their last nine Premier League encounters and save some face by achieving Europa League qualification.

Early indications suggest that Alexander-Arnold will continued to be utilised in this 'inverted full back' role on occasion in the upcoming season, negating the need for a traditional right back.

Of course, the 24-year-old can still feature as a more typical full back if Klopp reverts to a 4-3-3, but the England international's attacking qualities — and now proven versatility — open up options for the team.

During the latest European Championship qualification games, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate even opted to slot Alexander-Arnold directly into England's engine room, playing alongside Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice. In both games against Malta and North Macedonia, Alexander-Arnold looked incredibly composed and suited to his role as a right-sided 'number 8'. There are many who fans would like to see Alexander-Arnold feature in the middle of the park for Liverpool — though this may be less likely given the new arrivals at Anfield.

However, the question remains. Do Liverpool have enough cover for Trent when he's not at right back?

If Liverpool stick to a 3-2-2-3 this is less of an issue, as Ibrahima Konate (when fit) has the athletic attributes and front-foot aggression to cover the space vacated by Alexander-Arnold, while Joe Gomez and Joel Matip can both do a job in a back three. But what about times when Alexander-Arnold isn't available and Liverpool need a more 'old school' right back?

Gomez is currently the obvious squad option. At the club since 2015, the 26-year-old has been deployed at left back, centre back and right back. Though his development has stalled somewhat in recent seasons, the Englishman is experienced and has the pace and positional awareness needed to cover at right back in a 4-3-3, though he lacks the attacking output that Klopp often asks of his full backs.

The other specialist option already at Klopp's disposal is young Conor Bradley. The 20-year-old flourished as an attack-minded right back whilst out on loan with EFL Trophy winners Bolton last season, playing 53 times and scoring seven goals as the Trotters also reached the League One playoffs.

Bradley described his breakout campaign as one where he has "improved both as a person and player". Clearly a player full of potential, now that pre-season has begun for Liverpool, Klopp has the chance to take a closer look at Bradley and get a feel for how the player could work in his system.

It's a fantastic opportunity for the Northern Ireland international.

With Ramsey's first season at Anfield not going to plan due to injury, the young Scot has been farmed out on loan to Preston, opening up a spot for another player to join the first team and deputise when and where necessary. Could Klopp adapt Bradley into the perfect player for that role? Pre-season will be key.

All going to plan, he could earn game time in Liverpool's Europa League group games and domestic cup competitions, easing the burden on Alexander-Arnold and Gomez.

Considering the current squad then, it appears that Liverpool do have adequate options to cover the right side of their defence regardless of Alexander-Arnold's positional future. It's also worth noting that — given what we know about FSG's spending habits — any pursuit of a new right back in the summer transfer market would surely only hinder the club's ability to direct funds to the positions that require more immediate attention.

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