Against all odds, Liverpool had demonstrated immense quality and mental strength to weather a horrible run of injuries and stand top of the Premier league at Christmas. However, the last few weeks have seen the Reds wobble under the strain, taking a mere two points of the last nine against primarily bottom half opposition.
With all three senior center backs in Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip out of commission with injuries, calls for defensive reinforcements have grown as the second week of the winter transfer window draws to a close.
The club have sought tamp down on recruitment expectations, as the ongoing financial uncertainty amidst the coronavirus pandemic continues to give the notably circumspect FSG ownership pause in splashing out on hasty transfers.
However, according to a top transfer source, journalist Fabrizio Romano, fiscal prudence is not the sole reason for the lack of transfer buzz around the league-topping Reds. Indeed, it is also the intense competition for places for the reigning Premier League champions and recent Champions League winners that can be seen a considerable factor in a player’s transfer decision.
“A lot of players now don’t want to join Liverpool [and just] play 5, 6, 7 matches, [before] the big ones are coming back from their injuries and then [the new signings] are on the bench for one season or more,” Romano told the Here We Go podcast.
“So, at the moment, Liverpool are still with the same idea: ‘We can stay with this team. If we have an opportunity, OK. If we don’t, we stay with this one’.”
Of course, this has been manager Jürgen Klopp’s stance from the day he arrived at Anfield, with the emergency drafting of Steven Caulker in the German’s first season at the club arguably the sole occasion in which a transfer was not been made to improve on the available options.
The summer’s recruitment drive was a case in point. While Diogo Jota was only beginning to establish himself at the international level for Portugal at the time he signed for Liverpool, both he and the Reds’ other major summer signing, Thiago Alcantara were immediately seen as significant upgrades in the backup attacker and first choice midfield departments respectively. Both the club and the two recruits would have backed themselves to make their mark on the first team squad in short order.
It is a state of that leaves Liverpool with a Catch-22 situation: the best players will of course welcome the competition for places; however those players tend to cost a lot more than the club appears willing to spend at the moment.
All the same, Liverpool supporters will be hoping that Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards are able to crack this particular puzzle and locate the cheap, confident young center back who can bolster the Reds’ title defense before matters get out of hand.