Joel Matip’s latest injury could force Liverpool into the transfer market in January – we’re enforcing the rule on center-back targets reported by the Reds in the winter window.
Matip, 29, faces three weeks on the sidelines after injuring his groin in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, the most recent in a string of setbacks for the Cameroon center-back suffered this campaign.
The Premier League champions are said to have been watching a number of possible center-backs after Dejan Lovren left for Zenit St Petersburg last summer, before deciding they were happy with the options they had.
Despite losing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to knee injuries that could end the season earlier this season, it is still not believed that Liverpool are planning to enter the market in January.
Fabinho was a perfect replacement for the duo, while neither Rhys Williams, 19, nor Nat Phillips, 23, looked out of their depth when asked to cover the injured Matip.
Captain Jordan Henderson also served as center-back when Matip’s back gave way midway through Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Fulham in December.
But, even with their limited budget due to the impacts of Covid-19, the club’s position could now change and manager Jurgen Klopp could provide defensive reinforcements in January, something Jamie Carragher recently urged.
“I don’t necessarily mean bringing a center back for £ 70m to £ 80m like a Van Dijk signing,” said the Sky Sports expert.
“And not necessarily someone to go straight to the squad – just someone there so Liverpool don’t end up with two young guys at some point if Fabinho were to fall injured.
“Because right now Liverpool Football Club have a senior center-back who is available this season and he’s injury prone. So they have to do something in January.”
So who could the Liverpool manager move for? We take a look at the performance of the goals reported by the club this season, their attributes and whether a deal is possible for any of them in January …
Ben White (Brighton)
Status of the contract: 2024
Liverpool were one of several Premier League clubs to follow White’s progress during his loan with Leeds United last season, when the Poole-born defender was instrumental in promoting Marcelo Bielsa’s side to the Premier League.
However, that interest has since cooled and with White also signing a new contract at Brighton in September, removing the player from the Amex in January could prove costly.
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
Status of the contract: 2023
Upamecano is currently one of Europe’s most requested center-backs after an impressive season last time with Leipzig, which he helped advance to the Champions League semi-finals.
The France international was rewarded for these postings with a contract extension last July, although the new deal contains a announced a £ 40million buyout clause which will not come into force until next summer.
And that may darken the issue when it comes to Liverpool’s interest in January, just like the defender’s relative loss of form this campaign and the fact that the two sides meet in the Champions League in the spring.
Meanwhile, despite Upamecano is reportedly Liverpool’s first choice, the defender’s relative loss of form this season, coupled with the cost of signing the player in January, could also derail any plans the club had to bring him to Anfield this season.
However, given Upamecano is reportedly Liverpool’s first choice, Carragher thinks Klopp should move for him in January.
“There is a young man everyone was talking about in Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano, we are talking about him,” said the former Liverpool defender.
“If he’s the one they wanted, then go ahead. Pay some extra money and do it on January 1.”
Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)
Status of the contract: 2023
The Slovakia international would have been interesting at Tottenham last summer, but the north London club were frightened by Inter’s £ 54million assessment of the defender.
And while the veteran center-back has recently fallen down Antonio Conte’s pecking order, a similar assessment would also prove too prohibitive for Liverpool, who nevertheless did. would have watched the player.
Ozan Kabak (Schalke 04)
Status of the contract: 2024
Liverpool reportedly ready to take a step for Kabak last summer, before the effects of Covid affect their transfer budget.
Klopp prefers to shop in his homeland, where he has contacts, including former Schalke boss David Wagner, who he is said to have spoken to about the Turkey international before leaving the club in September.
Schalke was originally thought to want £ 40million for the center-back – pictured above when playing for former club Galatasaray – but that figure has since fallen to £ 30million, of which Liverpool could pay £ 20million in January, with the rest being phased.
And there are even reports that the Reds may be using a backup striker. Divock Origi partly in exchange for the player, who Klopp is believed to give a high rating, although his relative lack of high-level experience may be unfavorable.
Perr Schuurs (Ajax)
Status of the contract: 2022
The Netherlands international – who actually had a try with Liverpool two years ago – caught Klopp’s attention when Ajax faced the Reds in the Champions League group stage earlier this season.
This has led to reports claiming Liverpool were interested in Schuurs, who replaced Matthijs de Ligt in Ajax defense when he joined Juventus in the summer of 2019, stories the youngster was quick to dismiss.
“I hear it and I read it [Liverpool rumours] also, “he said SBS6, Quoted by Voetbal Primeur. “This is my first season as a baseman at Ajax. I want to play here a few more seasons and win some prizes. I’m not really working on that yet.”
However, with the Eredivisie champions supposedly wanting £ 27million for the player, Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards may think it’s an assessment he can work with in January.
2020/21 statistics of the top five European leagues (* none available for Eredivisie)
|Kabak (for 90)||Skriniar (by 90)||Upamecano (for 90)||White (by 90)|
|Passes||409 (52)||632 (69)||969 (90)||759 (52)|
|Tackles||7 (0.9)||15 (1.6)||15 (1.4)||28 (1.9)|
|Interceptions||8 (1)||11 (1.2)||12 (1.1)||25 (1.7)|
|Clearances||26 (3.3)||24 (2.6)||28 (2.6)||22 (1.5)|
|Aeirals just won||33 (4.2)||7 (0.8)||17 (1.6)||25 (1.7)|
|Aeirals||43 (5.5)||18 (2)||28 (2.6)||45 (3.1)|
|Directed clearances||14 (1.8)||15 (1.6)||10 (0.9)||10 (0.7)|
|Keys||525 (67)||740 (81)||1086 (101)||928 (64)|
|Dribble passed by opp.||3 (0.4)||3 (0.3)||3 (0.3)||15 (1)|
|Mistakes leading to goals||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)|
Of course, if Liverpool are unable to spend big in January, the club could still consider a possible loan for a defender or start negotiating with overseas-based players whose contracts expire this summer.
David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Status of the contract: 2021
The versatile defender looks set to leave Bayern for free at the end of the season after rejecting the club’s latest offer of a new deal, with Liverpool are said to have a “strong interest” in the player.
The Reds can either wait until his current contract at the Allianz Arena expires this summer and sign him for nothing, or if they are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements this season, they could try to offer him a discounted deal in January.
‘If a January deal makes sense, Liverpool have the means to pursue it’
Analysis by Vinny O’Connor, Sky Sports News correspondent in Merseyside:
Liverpool’s position is again not to sign anyone in the January transfer market.
The caveat to this is that this is similar to their position in the past, most recently last summer, before they then signed Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but while they say they have no plans to sign any players in January, if a deal comes up that makes sense, they have the means to pursue it.
As for the summer and the links with Upamecano, the identification process IF Liverpool will even consider doing whatever is in the works now.
As I mentioned before, the response to connections with people like White and Kabak was not that interesting.
Premier League clubs will be on high alert for the next six months and longer, with some big names seeing their contracts expire in the summer of 2021.
These players are free to talk to clubs in foreign leagues from January 1, as their current clubs are considering whether to come up with a new offer, sell at a reduced rate in January, or let go for free in the summer.
The pool of out-of-contract players is bigger than ever, with club legends Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero up for grabs if they don’t sign a new deal.
The January transfer window will open on Saturday January 2, 2021 and close on Monday February 1; Follow all the latest information on our dedicated Transfer Center blog at Sky Sports’ digital platforms as well as Sky Sports News.