Hands up who is thrilled to be in an international break right now? Us neither. For some, the pause in domestic action is a welcome hiatus from the humdrum of another stuttering start to a campaign. For Liverpool fans, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
An unavoidable consequence of having such a star-studded side is that sometimes upwards of two thirds of your first-team squad receive their nation’s call to arms. Wonderful for the player, we’re sure, but for us mere fans, it’s just another opportunity for a season-derailing injury to occur at the most inopportune of times.
Lightning struck on Tuesday when news broke of Joe Gomez suffering what was described as a ‘serious’ knee injury.
Thankfully, the 23-year-old’s surgery on Thursday was a success, but Liverpool now face the prospect of attempting to defend their Premier League crown with one senior recognised centre-half at their disposal.
That is, unless they make a splash in January.
The rumour mill has swung into overdrive, with the full range from established Champions League winners to rising Premier League stars touted as possible solutions. Even our old friend Steven Caulker was trending on twitter for a short time.
The pertinent question now appears to have become who will Liverpool sign in the window, rather than will they wait until the summer.
But the bigger issue is will owners Fenway Sports Group look to target a short-term immediate fix, or choose to keep one eye firmly on the future as they are prone to.
Here, @LFCUncensored takes a look at four centre-halves who have been credited across the media as being capable of solving Liverpool’s defensive crisis the moment the calendar clicks over to 01/01/2021.
Liverpool had planned to enter the transfer market again next summer, with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano at the top of their wanted list. The 22-year-old’s contract means he is available for around £40million at the end of the season. #awlfc [the athletic] pic.twitter.com/0G3NogvVTv
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) November 12, 2020
Much is expected of the RB Leipzig centre-half, with his ascension to a true European heavy hitter seemingly written in the stars.
The 22-year-old has forced his way into the extremely congested central-defensive ranks of the French national team in 2020 and you’d be a braver man than I to bet against him retaining his spot.
A recent poor showing against Man Utd in the Champions League drew stinging criticism from Rio Ferdinand and did give pause for thought. But even the best in the business have off days (remember Virgil versus Watford?).
The Daily Star recently described Upamecano as The Reds’ ‘top‘ target in January. This claim was backed up by The Athletic, who revealed Liverpool already had their sights set on landing the star in the summer of 2021.
Upamecano has two-and-a-half years remaining on his current deal, but by all accounts will be available for around the £40m range at season’s end per the terms of his contract.
Expect a similar fee to be required to trigger an early release in January.
The Turkish 20-year-old could be set to follow the path walked by Joel Matip by joining The Reds from Schalke.
Given Kabak’s age, such an acquisition would fall firmly into ‘one eye on the future category’. Furthermore, given his relative inexperience at senior level, one could argue he would face a difficult task disrupting the anticipated Matip-Fabinho axis that is likely to tie Liverpool over until Gomez returns.
Still, he would add depth to the position and could in no uncertain terms ever be described as a panic buy.
What’s not to like about the Bayern Munich stalwart?
A classy player in every sense of the word, the Austrian would bring pace, guile, experience and stability in abundance. Furthermore, he would slot straight into Liverpool’s backline with consummate ease from day one. You simply don’t last at a club like Bayern that long if you’re the sort of player that would require a ‘bedding in’ period once departed.
At 28, it’s fair to say Liverpool’s financial outlay would be in the knowledge that they’ll see no resale return on the back end. But the same was true with Thiago, and FSG deemed it a viable move.
Alaba is a free agent next summer, but Liverpool’s need is in the present. As such, a premium speculated to be around the £30m mark would likely be required to greenlight a deal.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 19, 2020
Jamie Carragher’s cheeky Monday Night Football quip to the Liverpool-born Wolves ace could soon take on new meaning.
Carra was in his customary mischievous mood when teasing Coady that he resided on Jurgen Klopp’s defensive wish list. A month later, this is beginning to look like a tremendous piece of television Houdinery.
Coady provides one thing the aforementioned trio do not. Proven Premier League experience.
His performances with Wolves have jettisoned himself into the mix for a starters berth with England. Though with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side on an upward trajectory and a healthy new contract recently signed, a king’s ransom may be required to convince Wolves to part ways.
If all else fails, and Caulker’s phone number has been lost into the ether, Klopp could turn to the inexperienced pair of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams to plug the gaps.
The duo haven’t put a foot wrong in limited showings thus far, but Liverpool haven’t got to where they are now over the past five years by making poor decisions. And from our perspective, a January addition seems like an absolute must.