No matter how good they often look going forward, Liverpool FC’s defensive woes seem set to continue.

Their attacking quartet of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and new-boy Mohamed Salah look unplayable on their day. According to WhoScored?, they have scored 45 goals and assisted a further 19 between them in all competitions for the Reds.

Despite the positives going forward, however, the main focus of fans and pundits alike remains on the Merseyside club’s apparent defensive frailties.

Defensive woes continue to blight Liverpool

Dejan Lovren, in particular, has been the focal point of the criticism, having made a number of glaring defensive errors that have been punished, most recently in the Merseyside Derby, when he gave away a soft penalty to cost his team two points and bragging rights.

As much as the defensive players at the club drastically need to improve, it is important to note they could be helped out a lot more by the players in front of them.

The best teams in the Premier League have a player in midfield who is tasked with protecting the defenders behind him. The Manchester clubs are sat at the peak of the table and have the two best defensive records in the League.

Fernandinho and Nemanja Matic have been ever-present in the Premier League this season for City and United respectively, and the presence of these out-and-out defensive midfielders in front of the back four has tightened their defences no end.

This is the type of player the Anfield outfit are missing. Captain Jordan Henderson is usually deployed in this role for the Reds and does boast better tackles per-game stats than his counterparts in Manchester, but Henderson is better deployed in a more advanced role.

Emre Can is more suited to the defensive role than any other midfielder at the club, but despite his obvious ability and potential, the German has been hot and cold this season.

However, according to numerous reports over the last few days, Can has agreed terms with Italian champions Juventus. If the reports prove to be accurate, then Liverpool will lose him and his defensive qualities next summer.

Keita to fix the Liverpool defence?

The good news for Liverpool fans is they have already secured the services of Naby Keita from German outfit RasenBallsport Leipzig, who will join the Reds in July 2018.

The Reds sealed the deal for the Guinea international back in August for a club-record fee, and there is tangible excitement among the fanbase for the midfielder’s arrival next summer.

A lot has been made about Keita’s ability going forward from central midfield, but in Leipzig’s incredible 2016/17 season, Keita was deployed as a defensive midfielder more than in any other position.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is known for wanting his players to fit in with the ‘heavy metal football’ that he likes to play. The team is expected to press from the front and put in tackles.

Despite this, Liverpool ranked 36th in Europe’s top five leagues last season for tackles per game, and a dismal 19th in the Premier League in terms of interceptions.

If Keita performs for the Reds as he did for RB Leipzig last season, then he would certainly improve their midfield’s defensive capabilities. He averaged around 3.5 tackles per game last season and a similar number of interceptions.

If there is one negative, however, about the Guinean’s arrival, then it is his apparent poor discipline. Earlier this season, he was sent off three times in seven games, which will surely concern his future boss Klopp.

His current manager Ralph Hassenhuttl has also been less than impressed with his midfielder’s hot-headedness, stating that his team need to “keep their discipline”.

That aside, Liverpool would almost certainly love to secure his services this January instead of in the summer, but Leipzig’s Sporting Director Ralf Rangnick has ruled out an early move to the Premier League for the player.

In an interview with Leipziger Volkzeitung in November, he said: “Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, it would make no sense to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier.

“We want to qualify for Europe again, and we need Naby for that.”

There is every chance that Keita could help to solve Liverpool’s defensive woes from midfield next season, but for the sake of the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign, Jurgen Klopp will have to get better performances out of the likes of Henderson and Can. Failing that, he must spend to improve the defence in the January transfer window.