At the close of the January transfer window, many a Liverpool supporter were left scratching their heads, wondering why the club didn’t sign a high-end attacking player to make up for the loss of Philippe Coutinho. It’s strange to say that Virgil Van Dijk is the ONLY player that Liverpool brought in during the transfer window because it’s still Virgil Van Dijk. The long saga with Southampton finally ended with Jürgen Klopp getting his man. It was and is a big deal that saw big money leave the Liverpool coffers. And when the Dutch defender gets up to speed with Klopp’s training regimen he is expected to take the whole defense thing up a notch or two.
So, Liverpool greatly strengthened their defense but also somewhat recklessly weakened the attacking side of their game by letting Coutinho walk without a replacement lined up.
Naby Keita couldn’t be pried away from RB Leipzig mid-season. Thomas Lemar suddenly had a massive price tag put on his back by AS Monaco. And beyond that there wasn’t much that Klopp seemed seriously interested in. The manager is not a impulse shopper. Ultimately, this is a positive in that Liverpool are less likely to end up signing duds. But in the here and now it’s hard to not feel like it’s a big gamble to just let it ride.
“Unfortunately our business is only from the outside that easy,” said Klopp. “You miss a player for a week and you think ‘okay, we need another player.’
“Yes, we could have done something. But we need really the right thing. The right thing now, you don’t get. The 100% right thing, only for completely crazy money that really makes no sense.
“That’s how it is. To do something just to have any solution that makes no real sense, to be honest.”
And most supporters would agree. Liverpool shouldn’t just be out there flashing the cash to bring in fancy faces. The issue is really about the club being unprepared to lose Coutinho in January. All and sundry could have anticipated Barcelona coming back for the Brazilian in the winter window after being thwarted in the summer. It was predictable. It was known.
Klopp has alluded to Adam Lallana’s return to the first team and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rising confidence in the side as suitable cover for attacking positions along with the promising, but not-yet-producing, Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke. Those two strikers could surprise us, that’s true. But the odds are that maybe one of them comes out swinging in the next few months.
“People obviously ask ‘bring him in’ because someone is injured and you need somebody else,” Klopp alludes to Adam Lallana’s absense, “but then the other one is coming again and you weaken both or the third one. It makes no sense.
“In this situation you really need to stay cool. It’s more difficult when you’ve lost two games but you need to be serious still.”
The up side here is that Jürgen Klopp is still our manager and Liverpool are better for it. The first team is still chock full of attacking talent and the club’s top defensive target was secured. We will still see some great football on display throughout the second half of the season but it’s the need for rotation and the scare of injuries that present the biggest issues. One Roberto Firmino hamstring tweak or a Mohamed Salah knee or a Lallana that can’t quickly return to action and the fight for the top four could be very serious, indeed.