A little over 24 hours ago it seemed a foregone conclusion that Liverpool would not be signing a center-back before the January transfer window closed. Although manager Jürgen Klopp had said he would have liked to sign one, all indications were that the club was more comfortable using makeshift defenders and a pair of U23 academy graduates than overspending on a stopgap veteran.
That all changed in the span of a few hours last night. In the lead-up to Liverpool’s match at Tottenham, news broke that Fabinho had sustained a muscle injury and would miss out. Then, an ankle injury forced Joël Matip off at halftime.
Though there is apparently a small chance Matip may have avoided anything too serious, the plague of injuries to center-backs may have finally forced Liverpool to strongly consider a less than ideal candidate to shore up the decimated defense.
According to Football Insider, Aaron Long of the New York Red Bulls may be the top target for the Reds. The 28-year-old American is reportedly looking for a short term loan to keep his fitness. With Major League Soccer not set to begin their season until April, his club is apparently open to the idea.
This move not only seems to make sense for Long and the New York Red Bulls, but it also makes sense for Liverpool. A solid first-team central defender who can contribute both now and when Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez return does not seem to be in the cards. So, the idea of a short-term loanee to fill in at center-back seems more logical than buying a player who wouldn’t normally be in the first-team picture on a fully fit Liverpool squad.
At 28, Long has a relatively short history of high-level first-team football, but he has made the most of his MLS career so far. He was named the MLS Defender of the Year in 2018 on a Red Bulls team that posted the best record in the MLS. He has also made 18 appearances for the United States Men’s National Team since his 2018 debut.
He also appears to be quite durable, missing just a handful of matches over his four years in New York. This is especially important given a plethora of center-back injuries are the entire reason he may be a target.
Though Long isn’t the type of player one would typically expect to see Liverpool sign, he doesn’t seem a bad option given the club’s desperation and the players who are realistically available to the Reds.
It remains to be seen if there is much merit to this rumour, but there is no question Liverpool need help at the back. They could probably do a lot worse than Aaron Long, and trying to ride out the rest of this season with the center-backs currently at the club no longer seems to be an option.