Director of Football Damien Comolli speaks to Liverpoolfc.tv after securing the deal to bring Uruguay international Sebastian Coates to Anfield.
First of all Damien, tell us about the qualities of our latest signing...
He's a central defender who can play on either side, even though he's right footed. He has a fantastic physical presence, he's very good in the air offensively and defensively, he's very strong in one v ones and very good at clearing things in his own box. He has the mentality of Uruguay players that everyone can see in Luis Suarez; he never gives up, always commits himself and isn't scared of any challenge either on the ground or in the air. He also has this ability to play from the back, which is needed when you play for Liverpool Football Club.
Lots of defenders have been linked with the club this summer but Sebastian's name only came onto the radar over the last couple of weeks. Is he a player you have been tracking for a while?
Myself and my scouting staff have been tracking him for over two years now, since the Copa America U20 tournament in Venezuela. Then he went to the U20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009 and we kept an eye on him during the season, playing for his club Nacional where he was the captain, and then our scout went to the Copa America this summer just for confirmation of what we were thinking about him.
The fact that Soto and Daniel Ayala went made room for us to sign a player at the back, because we needed him.
There has been a lot of talk this summer about Liverpool signing English players, but this transfer demonstrates the work of your worldwide scouting network...
We have always said we are not focused on the passport but on the quality, and we have been very happy with the quality we have found in the Premier League. But Sebastian is exactly what we needed and the fact that Luis is here helped a great deal. I am sure people know he was linked with a lot of clubs and there was a lot of interest in him, both before and then after the Copa America because of his performances for Uruguay, but Luis spoke to him and although I don't know what he told him about Liverpool Football Club, he must have said something which was positive and then Sebastian said he wanted to come here. The fact that Luis is here is a major factor in his decision.
He's a Copa America winner and also won the Young Player of the Tournament award - what does that tell you about his winning mentality?
It's exactly what he's got. If you see the games during the Copa America he was one of the youngest defenders, if not the youngest to play most of the games. Nothing touched him, he handled it perfectly and for us it was proof he was ready to come here because it was the biggest stage you can find in South America and for such a young player to do as well as he did in keeping more experienced players on the bench during the tournament was a strong sign of both his personality and of the level he can get to.
How suited is his game to English football and the Premier League?
His qualities are perfect for the Premier League because here you can face more direct teams where you have to head the ball several times during the game and make sure your presence is being felt on set pieces and throw-ins. He also has the ability to play against big players, he's not afraid to be isolated one on one and defend properly. We think he is the complete package. He is only 20 so there is a lot of time for improvement, and playing alongside Martin, Jamie or Daniel will help him improve fantastically, I'm sure, and training on a daily basis against Suarez or Andy will be a new challenge for him but we know already he will bring a big contribution to the team and to the squad.
I have said several times during the summer that we don't buy a young player for the next six months or the next year, it's a long term commitment where we commit to him and he commits to us. We know he will be an even better player in two or three years time.
And if he settles in as quickly and as well as Luis Suarez has done, then he'll be doing very well...
People say we have paid a decent fee for a young player who has just made it on the international scene, but we've got a reference that we know taking a young Uruguayan player has worked before and we know that Luis is going to help him a lot to settle in and to adapt to the Premier League. We think we've got plenty of guarantees that he's going to do well.