Brendan Rodgers has claimed the deadline day signings of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori can protect Liverpool in central defence for the next decade, as he prepares to take a "more pragmatic" team back to Swansea City on Monday night.
The Liverpool manager returns to his former club with a wealth of options in central defence having spent £16m on Sakho and £7m on Ilori on the final day of the transfer window. Kolo Touré is also in contention having recovered quicker than expected from a groin injury but faces a fight to dislodge Martin Skrtel following his outstanding display alongside Daniel Agger in Liverpool's last outing, a victory against Manchester United that maintained their 100% start to the new season.
While the 20-year-old Ilori falls into the "one for the future" bracket at Liverpool, the France international Sakho is pressing for inclusion following his move from Paris Saint-Germain. The 23-year-old is one of the most expensive defensive signings in Liverpool's history, despite having only 12 months remaining on his PSG contract, but Rodgers believes the Anfield club had to address their long-term needs and improve competition in central defence.
"I wanted to try and protect the present and the future of the club," said Rodgers, who will be without the injured Glen Johnson at Swansea. "Good centre-halves are so hard to find. You look at some teams and they have ageing centre-halves because it is a struggle to get a really good one.
"We were fortunate in that two became available. One we had been tracking for a year in Tiago Ilori, a young talent who can be a big talent. He is 6ft 3in, super quick, powerful, can jump. He just needs to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. He is one for the future but he can be a really big talent.
"Sakho is 23 but he is an experienced player, he has senior international caps and looks an absolute monster in training. He is one who is ready for now and that is what we want. We had a chance to protect the club for maybe the next 10 years and that is what we have done."
Liverpool are yet to concede a goal in the Premier League this season and the dilemma over whether to field Touré, impressive before his injury in the Capital One Cup, Skrtel on the back of his dominant United display, Ilori, Sakho or Agger does not concern Rodgers. "What we are doing here means we will never be reliant on one player, the whole make up is about the team so that we can take one in and put one in and still be strong," he said. "They will get their chance. Martin Skrtel took his chance and that is their job. Every day in training I assess who is on form and who has the desire to be in the team. It is not a problem."
Liverpool have won all their league games 1-0 this season and, in the second half of matches especially, have shown a resilience not always evident during Rodgers's first campaign in charge. "We have been more pragmatic and that is part of the growth of the team," he said. "It doesn't just happen. I think sometimes when you come in as a coach and you have a certain philosophy about the way you want to play, people think it is only about the ball. They just concentrate on the football, but it is not that. Of course you have to have courage to play and pass, but you have to have the steel and that will and desire to win games.
"Over the period of time that message has got through. Over the last six or seven months that is being proven on the field. In each of the three games this season we have shown that. Hopefully we will continue to show all those fighting qualities. I said last year that we would get better and better in the second half of the season and I think it will be the same this season."