Liverpool would be taking unnecessary gambles by selling reserves Ragnar Klavan, Simon Mignolet
So farewell then, Ragnar Klavan. The veteran Estonian arrived at Anfield for a relative pittance, departed for even less, and for most of his two years at the club, he was fourth choice for his position.
That really doesn't tell the whole story, though, and Klavan was far more valuable than he was ever probably given credit for. Time will tell if allowing him to leave proves to be a mistake, but it certainly seems like an unnecessary gamble.
Allowing Simon Mignolet to also follow Klavan out the exit door before the end of the month would be an even bigger risk by Jurgen Klopp. The Belgian is being heavily linked with a move away, but he could, indeed should, still have a role to play this season.
So, too, could Klavan, if he hadn't been given the green light to move to Italian club Cagliari. Given his status as a fringe member of the side, you might be surprised to know that Klavan appeared in 53 games over the past two seasons, starting 40 of them. You can count on one hand the number of bad games he had.
Liverpool's record when Ragnar Klavan started:— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 17, 2018
P40 W21 D13 L6 F84 A43
1.9 points per game.
He played in so many games because Liverpool's other centre-backs have often been unavailable.
Joel Matip is very much in the "high injury risk" category. Just like Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, the elegant defender is highly susceptible to muscular problems. In fact, Matip's thigh muscles seem to have the strength and elasticity of wet tissue paper. He missed a large chunk of last season, a couple of chunks of the season before, and even this summer, his preseason was cut short after only a few appearances. Liverpool cannot count on him.
Dejan Lovren isn't exactly the most durable either. He has had his fair share of injuries and played through the second half of last season and also this summer's World Cup with a stomach complaint that has now caused him to miss the opening weeks of the new campaign.
Then there's Joe Gomez. Bad luck seems to have been the main problem for him. Knee and ankle ligament damage is hardly a sign of a player being "injury prone"; if anything, it points to him being unlucky. Either way, though, it's not encouraging.
Perhaps Fabinho can do a job there in an emergency, while Klopp has spoken highly of young Nathaniel Phillips, who performed well in preseason. It's admirable that Klopp is always keen to clear a path for young players to come through whenever possible, but this is neither the time nor the position for that.
Young centre-backs make mistakes. Look at Gomez, who has vastly more experience and talent than Phillips, yet is still prone to the occasional error because that's how it is with all young centre-backs.
Nowhere in a team is experience more valuable that in the centre of defence. Klavan had that in spades. He just slotted in when needed, did his job and then went out again without any complaint. Players like that are invaluable in any successful squad. Presumably Klavan felt he needed to play more, and that's understandable. Klopp is never one to stand in the way of a player's happiness, but these are exceptional circumstances.
Liverpool have a genuine chance of winning the title this year, and nothing should be allowed to jeopardise that. Weakening the squad by allowing quality backups like Klavan and Mignolet to leave seems like an unnecessary gamble.
It might not prove costly, and Liverpool may not even need them, but why take the chance when the stakes are so high?
Mignolet's agent has suggested that Liverpool want to keep the player. Hopefully that's true, but it's more likely to be brinkmanship to secure a higher fee as clubs rarely let on that they're desperate to get rid of a player.
Mignolet obviously feels it's time for a new start, but Liverpool should take pause on this.