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Liverpool Could Buy a Winger in January

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Jürgen Klopp revealed that the absence of Danny Ings and Sadio Mané may trigger some activity in the January transfer window.

Liverpool v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Without European football, Liverpool's squad should remain deep enough to handle the absence of one or two players. January, however, will reduce Jürgen Klopp's attacking options with Danny Ings out for the season after suffering the fourth major knee injury of his career and Sadio Mané set to feature at the Africa Cup of Nations for Senegal.

Klopp did say that he felt Ings was "very, very close" to getting back to into the first-team picture. Perhaps the plan was for Ings to play a role in Mané's absence supporting Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi to help Liverpool move forward in what could be a busy month.

There are four Premier League fixtures in January along with another four potential domestic cup ties in the EFL Cup (semi-finals) and the FA Cup (third and fourth rounds). Going into this period thin in one or two areas of the squad could be a real concern after a demanding festive schedule.

"We watch the market all the time and of course we need to be prepared for different situations and one of them is injuries," Klopp said. "The African Cup of Nations we already knew about so we don’t need to be influenced or surprised by that, but it could be a moment when we approach the market.

"It’s not about about how many strikers. Three strikers is enough, I think. But when Sadio is away we will be without a winger. We do not have many wingers, I would say. Roberto Firmino could play as a kind of a winger which would then just give us two strikers. It is a long way to go from January onwards and that month of January is busy.

"If we can go to the semi-final of the League Cup it could be the busiest month of the whole year. We need to be prepared for this for sure."

As terrible as the situation is for Danny Ings, he hasn't been the first-team picture much before his injury. Mané, though, is a key player. The only game Liverpool lost in the Premier League was in the Senegal international's absence. He provides a combination of pace, productivity, perspiration, and perception that is difficult to replace.

Christian Pulisic is reportedly a player that Liverpool are keen to move for again next summer after a deadline day bid failed only months ago. The 18-year-old American international has scored two goals and made three assists in seven appearances in the Bundesliga. Although those numbers came in two league games against lowly opposition, Pulisic underlined his potential. He has also played primarily from the right with the ability to drift inside—much like Mané.

Such a move in January may be unlikely, which would bring a new target on Liverpool's radar. Klopp is clear that adding another winger is something Liverpool need to do at some stage, and January could be the time to do so. Liverpool's summer spending was balanced and certainly provides room for further investment this season.

Losing Mané for a few weeks isn't ideal, but what Klopp won't do is disparage the African Cup of Nations just because it disrupts his plans for the best part of a single month every two years.

"As a manager you are not too happy when you don’t have players in January, but I’m not the person to say anything about the African Nations Cup,” Klopp added respectfully. "It is their big tournament and you can’t say ‘come on, play it in summer’. That is quite difficult in Africa. As a manager I do not like it but it is three weeks. We knew it before and so we have to find a solution.

"I’ve not spoken to Joel about this much, but he wasn’t with the national team last time and he’s not with them this time. It’s a different situation to Sadio because he lived in Senegal. Joël was brought up in Germany. I am pretty sure Joël will stay here."

Of course, Liverpool's next winger is unlikely to be one with African Cup of Nations commitments. Losing two players in the same position at the same time every two years isn't a sensible way to build or improve a squad, but it's refreshing to hear a manager speak with perspective on a tournament that's three years older than its European counterpart.

It will be interesting to see if Liverpool make another move for Pulisic or seek an alternative to provide Klopp with sufficient options in a potentially busy month.