What would Martin Montoya bring to Liverpool?

Sports Mole considers how Martin Montoya would fit in at Liverpool, should the club sign him in January.

If the latest reports are to be believed, Premier League side Liverpool is the most likely destination for Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya. The Reds have long been linked with the player, but there is also competition from the likes of Arsenal and Napoli.

Here, Sports Mole considers the impact he might have at the club should Liverpool win the race for his services.

With Jose Enrique facing as much as three months out after undergoing surgery earlier in the week, Brendan Rodgers's side is getting a little thin in the full-back department. Not only that, but Enrique has been a key part of the Liverpool side in terms of providing width.

Jose Enrique of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on September 01, 2013© Getty Images

He will be back, of course, and it is never a good idea to plan your transfer strategy around injuries, but providing depth in the defence is just the first benefit of targeting Montoya. He is a player, technically skilled, capable of playing on either side of defence, which can only be a benefit to any team.

That is perhaps the key reason that Rodgers is reportedly trying to bring in Montoya. The style of football he has employed at Anfield revolves around neat and tidy passing, with Spanish players as good as any in the technical side of things. His grounding at Barcelona and many appearances for Blaugrana would allow him to slot straight into the Rodgers style of play.

However, Montoya is best used on the right side of the defence, being right-footed. While he could be used on the left in the absence of Enrique, the odds are that the 27-year-old would get his place back once fit, which means the better comparison would be between Montoya and Glen Johnson for the right-back slot.

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson in action on September 23, 2012© Getty Images

For a start Johnson is pushing 30 now, which makes thinking about his long-term replacement sensible. The Englishman has always been more recognised for his attacking ability than the defensive side to his game, although he has improved in the latter over the last few seasons. This season he has won 71% of his tackles and 54% of headers, which is a decent enough return.

Montoya has on occasion been deployed at centre-back, which suggests that he should have a good understanding of his defensive duties. However, while he is marginally better this season with his headers - having won 55% - his 62% tackle rate suggests that he might get skinned a little too easily on the ground. Overall last season, Johnson's 81% tackle success stacks up well to Montoya's 71%.

If there is one thing that can be levelled at Liverpool's current full-backs it's that they are much more suited to an attacking game. That is not so much of a problem as Rodgers does demand this from them, but even so it is vital at times to be able to defend. Montoya, it would seem, is of a similar mindset.

Barcelona's Martin Montoya in action against Malaysia XI during a friendly match on August 10, 2013© AFP

However, his 91% pass accuracy last season measures up well with Johnson's 82%. It is Montoya's technical and physical attributes that are most well-rounded, which should mean that he would not take too much adapting to the Premier League. As a graduate of the Barca academy he loves to take players on and hold on to the ball.

Combined with this, his passing is excellent, which will ensure that he is a very effective full-back when his team has the ball. With Rodgers's 4-2-3-1 formation that sees the full-backs bomb forward, Montoya would be an asset on the right or the left as he is constantly looking to get involved with play.

Although his statistics show that he might not be the best in a one-on-one situation, he does possess excellent positional sense for a player of his age, which depending on your point of view could be more beneficial to Liverpool. Overall, Montoya is a typical modern full-back who should fit well with the Reds' system, even if he would not dramatically improve upon the current options.

Barcelona's Martin Montoya in action against Malaysia XI during a friendly match on August 10, 2013
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