All the noises coming from the Liverpool camp at the start of January were defiant – there was no way the club would dip into the transfer market to sign a central defender, even after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
As the month went on, and as Joël Matip struggles with yet more fitness issues, there has been less and less certainty that this remains the case. Even Jürgen Klopp is dropping major hints in public that he’d like another option in that area.
And now here we are, at the end of the January transfer window, and it’s inconceivable that the Liverpool hierarchy could possibly believe that the team will be fine for the rest of the season with the current options available.
So far, the club has managed to just about get by with Matip, the one available senior option who has been struggling for fitness, and has made up the numbers by moving Fabinho back from midfield and promoting the inexperienced duo of Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips.
While the young duo have done about as well as expected, it’s been clear pretty much all along that neither player is suited to Liverpool’s style of play – nor are they ready to play regularly at this level.
Still, they’ve been just about enough when added to Fabinho and Matip – but now both of those options are also on the injury list and Liverpool really are in a full-blown crisis situation now.
Fabinho’s problem is a minor muscle issue and, with any luck, shouldn’t keep him out for too long. But Matip suffered an injury to his ankle ligaments in the first half against Tottenham Hotspur which, if as bad as first feared, could force the Cameroonian to endure several months on the treatment table.
This would mean that Liverpool FC, the reigning Premier League champions with aspirations of retaining their crown while also challenging for the Champions League, with precisely zero senior centre-backs – possibly for the rest of the season.
Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson have done admirable jobs when called upon to fill in at the back, but neither are natural options and, generally, the midfield misses their physical presence when these two hard-hitters aren’t in there.Embed from Getty Images
Surely there’s no way the powers-that-be can genuinely believe that the team is capable of challenging for domestic and European honours this season with no options at the back?
Fortunately, there is still a small amount of time left in this transfer window, presenting Liverpool with an opportunity to finally make a move and bring in a defensive option to boost the club’s chances of silverware this season.
And there’s every chance that news of a new recruit could come on Deadline Day. It’s not common for the Reds to do business on short notice and right at the end of a transfer period – the last player to arrive on the final day of a window was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in August 2017.
In January, Liverpool have generally preferred either not not make any buys or, if they do, it is usually all sorted before or early in the window. See Marko Grujić, Virgil van Dijk and Takumi Minamino for recent examples.
But for once, instead of standing outside the training ground with little more than hope of some transfer action, Sky Sports’ Vinny O’Connor might genuinely have something to do this Deadline Day.
Might be one worth tuning in for…
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