Liverpool have been forced to do without Van Dijk
That is a hard box to tick before adding it criteria like availability, affordability and plausibility. As an example, Ben White, who has been admired for a while, would be incredibly hard to secure now.
The club’s thinking has been no move is better than the wrong move, especially if you can get the right one done in due course.
On the financial front, it is instructive to note that Wolves accepted just shy of 10% of the guaranteed fee for Diogo Jota in the first 12 months, which was offset by Ki-Jana Hoever’s £13.5m sale to them.
The deal for Thiago saw a guaranteed £20m being paid over the course of the player’s contract.
Liverpool may have to get creative if they are to secure a defender this month – a loan or such – but more imperative is that they properly fortify the rearguard in the summer.
Van Dijk and Gomez’s return from long-term injuries will need to be carefully managed. There is also no guarantee as to how either player will perform post-rehab after debilitating setbacks.
Having been conservative with regards to this department in the past, Liverpool will probably have to sign two good centre-backs this summer.
Three senior natural players for the position is not enough if none of them are bankers to last a full season and it is better to have the headache of five fit central defenders than none.
While Liverpool’s issues at the back have not harmed them in a solidity sense without the ball, it has degraded their offensive powers.
The loss of Van Dijk’s passing range to exploit space and bypass the opposition’s press or Matip and Gomez’s ability to step out with the ball has harmed their build-up play.
While Henderson and Fabinho are both accomplished midfielders with their absence felt in the centre of the park, neither have replicated these crucial elements to start attacks.
Liverpool’s inability to use possession as effectively as they used to has given them more work to do without it.
Across the last month, starting with the Champions League draw at FC Midtjylland, Klopp’s men have recorded only two wins from seven fixtures in all competitions.
While those triumphs were gigantic – the ousting of Tottenham ate into Jose Mourinho’s title ambitions before Crystal Palace were annihilated 7-0 in a match that framed Liverpool as overwhelming favourites to be crowned champions again – they have been sandwiched by a notable drop in chance creation.
In the last three clashes against West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United, and Southampton, only seven shots on target have been registered in total, with one of those resulting in a goal.
Liverpool’s risk in not signing a centre-back is evidently more than just a defensive problem.
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