Our European tour that started with PSV's Georginio Wijnaldum, moved to Madrid Castilla's Jesé Rodriguez, crossed the border to discuss Ligue 1's Etienne Capoue and Sebastien Corchia, has finally returned back to Holland with:
Toby Alderweireld - Central Defender Ajax Amsterdam
Jamie Carragher has done the unthinkable and joined forces with Gary Neville (despite being remarkably juvenile, "gross" is really the only word that comes to mind), Martin Skrtel's form seems to have left with Steve Clarke, and Seb Coates has yet to be sighted since joining the Witness Protection Program. All that goodness leaves Liverpool with Daniel Agger and a pu-pu platter's worth of question marks at center back.
Thankfully, this need is not just recognized by the Liverpool faithful, as Brendan Rodgers has already shown intent on bolstering this position before the next campaign. Rather unfortunately, it seems Kyriakos Papadopoulous won't get the chance to show Liverpudlians that not all Greek center backs are just foreheads and ponytails attached to mannequins, while links to Sporting Lisbon's Tiago Ilori have gone equally cold. On a positive note, one name that seems to be resurfacing again is that of Ajax Amsterdam's Toby Alderweireld.
Having spent his entire senior career at Ajax, the 24 year old Belgian has racked up 124 appearances for the Dutch giants and shows all the obvious signs of having developed in the club's vaunted youth system. Alderweireld's tremendous positional awareness is paired with a passing ability befitting a midfielder more than rival center backs. As a right-footed ball-playing central defender, it isn't hard to imagine Alderweireld forming a slick, tattoo-coveredpartnership with the left-footed Daniel Agger at the heart of Liverpool's defense. Though not the finished article just yet, prior Champions League experience and his 24 caps for native Belgium speak to Alderweireld's blossoming into a top level defender in the mold of compatriots and fellow Ajax alumni Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen.
Perhaps most importantly, Alderweireld is a clearly available player. The Belgian's contract expires in the summer of 2014 and without his intentions to renew, Ajax have every intention to collect a fee now rather than let the player walk. Interest has swirled from clubs like Bayer Leverkusen, Rafa Benitez's Napoli (despite the awkward PDA from Skrtel's agent), and, somewhat surprisingly, a recent aggressive push from Norwich City.
Seeing as Leverkusen and Napoli can both offer Champions League competition next season, Liverpool would be wise to try and step in and see off Norwich before the heavy-hitters circle once more.