Premier League

Where Liverpool could look to strengthen in January

 • by Sam McGuire
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Much to the dismay of their fans, Liverpool decided to sit out the summer transfer window. The European champions failed to leverage their standing in the game and went into the new campaign having added no first-team reinforcements. 

At the time, it appeared a mistake. Over recent seasons, the Reds have been fortunate with injuries and the feeling was that good luck wouldn’t extend yet another year. However, as we head into December, Jürgen Klopp’s men are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League

They’ve been struck with injuries, too. Alisson was ruled out for a number of weeks, Joël Matip is currently sidelined and Mohamed Salah’s had a recurring ankle problem since the victory over Leicester City. Despite this, Liverpool keep finding ways to win. 

But the risk they’re taking in not having adequate cover in certain areas is an unnecessary one. Especially now they’re in control of the English top-flight and a real shot at winning their first-ever Premier League title. 

Though January isn’t always a buyer’s market, there is value for money out there. The Reds have done some of their best business during the winter window with Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Virgil van Dijk all arriving midway through the campaign. 

There’s no reason January 2020 can’t see the table-toppers add another shrewd addition to their ranks. If they do decide to invest, there are two positions that need to be addressed before anything else. 

Here, we take a look at potential arrivals should Liverpool flex their financial muscle. 

A fourth musketeer

The Reds have done their very best to not replace Coutinho. The Brazilian maestro left Merseyside almost two years ago and despite a number of players being linked with a move to Anfield to fill that void, it remains empty.

Nabil Fekir was earmarked as the man to play that position but a move collapsed at the last minute. 

James Maddison and Houssem Aouar have been mentioned as players who could fill that creative role but Liverpool appear content with those middle third options. Instead, a wide threat is seemingly on the cards. 

Linked with Nicolas Pépé and Samuel Chukwueze during the summer, a versatile final third player seems to be on the club’s wishlist. Timo Werner’s decision to extend his stay with RB Leipzig seemed to quash talk of a move but with the German club now interested in Erling Håland, the 23-year-old Stuttgart-born forward is back on the table. 

Of the viable options out there, Werner appears to be the best suited. Deployed as a false-nine under new manager Julian Nageslamnn, the Germany international looks more dangerous than ever.

He’s scoring goals, assisting team-mates and generally causing chaos in the space between the lines. He’s proving he’s much more than just a pace merchant. Though RBL are gunning for the Bundesliga title, a fair offer may tempt them into cashing in on their No.11 if it helps them secure the services of Haaland. 

Werner’s flexibility in attack means he could fill in for Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mané as well as playing in a front four alongside the trio. And unlike when Champions League hero Divock Origi enters the fray, there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference in the overall quality of the forward line. The Belgian scores goals but can often fail to influence proceedings. 

Defensive cover

The position of van Dijk’s partner seems to be something of a poisoned chalice. The player in possession of a starting berth alongside the Dutch behemoth often ends up injured.

Someone else then steps in and makes a claim for that role before injury sidelines them. In the end, the right-sided centre-back position is a timeshare with Matip, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren all having a stake in it. 

Right now, Lovren is in possession of the place in the team with Matip ruled out and Gomez not in the best of form. The Croatian, however, isn’t the most reliable when it comes to fitness and the England international has had some troubles himself over the years. 

Liverpool could find themselves having to play Fabinho at centre-back again with Sepp van den Berg not ready for first-team action yet. It isn’t an ideal position to be in with the Brazilian powerhouse one of the best midfielders in the world at present. Shifting him means two areas of the pitch suffer.  

One solution may be to sign an experienced centre-back in their twilight years. Another Ragnar Klavan. Options like this are scarce but do exist. While Håvard Nordtveit didn’t set the Premier League alight during spells with West Ham United or Fulham, he could do a job at a push. He’s not starting for Hoffenheim and wouldn’t be against being anything more than a squad player. 

Another possibility could be Aleksandar Dragovic. The 28-year-old comes with European experience and he’s played in a high-energy system so knows the demands and the expectations. 

These might not pop as signings you’d make if you want to win the Premier League, but sometimes patchwork is all that is required to get the job done.

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