Sebastien Corchia - Right Back Sochaux
Having graduated from France's prestigious Clairefontaine academy, without turning into a head-case like fellow grads Nicolas Anelka and William Gallas, Corchia has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several season. First breaking through at Le Mans, Corchia had clearly outgrown Ligue 2 by the time of his transfer to Sochaux in the summer of 2011.
An exceptionally consistent defensive presence, Corchia's averages of 2.9 tackles and 5.5 clearances already best those of Liverpool incumbent Glen Johnson, at 2.5 and 3.3 respectively. Perhaps most impressive is Corchia's highly developed positional awareness, reflected by his average of 2.9 interceptions per game as compared to Johnson's 1.6.
Of course, like most other right backs in the world, Corchia would find it difficult to compete with Johnson in an attacking sense. The England international's 1.3 key passes and 1.3 dribbles absolutely dwarf the respective .6 and .4 contributions by Corchia, though, frankly, Johnson's kamikaze style down the wing wore increasingly thin as last year wore on.
After a brilliant start to the season in which he effortlessly switched back and forth from right back to left back to right once again, Johnson's form worryingly dipped through the spring. With Martin Kelly on the trainer's table and Andre Wisdom back with the reserves, Johnson and Jose Enrique really had no competition for their starting berths. While Enrique seemed to pick up steam as the season wore on, Johnson was far from his best for most of the run in and competition for the position next season is a must.
The rumor mill has grumbled of a switch to center back for Kelly (probably a logical fit considering his frame and injury history) and a loan move to Fulham for Wisdom, leaving an outside purchase as the best bet to push Johnson. The same rumor mill in a different language had reported the finalization of Corchia's move to Ligue 1 giant Olympique Lyon, but an apparent disagreement of 250,000 euros between Sochaux and perennial stickler Jean-Michel Aulas caused the deal to collapse.
Now, Corchia is exploring his options for a move abroad, presumably right around the same three million euro price that Sochaux set his initial valuation. Even Walmart wouldn't be able to compete with that price and it would be foolish for Liverpool not to explore bringing him aboard.
*Stats gratefully borrowed from the excellent Whoscored.com