As everyone expected, Jürgen Klopp fielded a number of centre-back-related questions in his pre-match press conference.
The manager was quick to suggest that the club are not being complacent, but rather that the market in that position is not as promising as everyone would want.
Klopp has repeated his insistence, however, that he has nothing specific to say on the matter “until something happens,” a promising phrase if there ever was one.
“I don’t know [if we will sign a centre-back] but we will try. It would be funny when you all think, ‘Ahh, Liverpool is just fine with the situation, they don’t care and they don’t try’. We try, but how you know, there’s nothing to say until something happens so we will see. The situation yesterday didn’t make it easier or whatever but it’s still just that we try to do the right things. If that’s possible we will do it, if not then not.”
Going further, the manager refused to clarify if a any of the plethora of defensive injuries had made a signing more likely, as the club’s plans to use Fabinho to fulfill Dejan Lovren’s former role as fourth choice centre-back after the signing of Thiago in the summer has been left in tatters.
The manager insists that his thinking about whether or not to sign a centre-back has not changed over the course of the season.
“[M]y thoughts didn’t change. My words might have, but that’s probably rather because of my English. No, same situation as before. We work on this, we don’t have always training, we don’t have always press conferences, there’s time in between and if we don’t sleep, we work. That’s what we did all the time. We will see.”
Part of the difficulty is the club’s planning: Liverpool do not like to spend unreasonable money on short-term solutions.
“Actually everything is long term. OK, apart from we bring a player in for the next six months or whatever. Right, that would be short term. But usually everything is kind of long term. We had one half-year contract: Steven Caulker. No, it’s about solution, that’s the first thing. And that’s what we are working on.”
The current unprecedented situation might change this mindset, however, as it would now arguably be a much more dangerous financial risk to not buy additional defensive personnel than to play the second half of the season with no recognized senior centre-backs currently available.
When asked what the difficulty with signing someone in this window, the manager clarified that the financial situation is compounded by the need to find a player who suits Liverpool’s style of play.
“So, I’m not sure there’s an £80 million centre-back available in the moment so that a club says, ‘OK, we get £80 million for him, we want to sell him now.’ I don’t think that’s the case, to be honest, or pretty much I know. This player of this calibre probably, I’m not sure the team want to or would sell them now. No, it’s both. Of course we need to find the right player, that’s clear, and it needs to suit our financial situation, that’s clear as well. No, it’s both.”
He did make time to compliment Nat Phillips’ performance when the player had to come on against Spurs.
“For example, last night [was] a really tricky one - Nat coming on, early challenge, yellow card and then calm and playing a really good game and helped us a lot. That was really, really good. So, happy about that.”
All in all, the centre-back situation is a major damper on what was a good performance and a good result against Spurs mid-week. While the manager is open about the difficulties the club is facing in the market, he has not closed off the possibility of signing reinforcements as the “slamming shut” of the window looms.