Why Liverpool will have to take January risks to retain the title

With Joel Matip rested for Liverpool’s visit to Brighton, the need for a new centre-half was more obvious than ever.

From Jurgen Klopp’s meticulous game plans to Michael Edwards’ data-driven recruitment, Liverpool always has a plan.

However, in this January window, that plan is going to have to change. The injury situation at Liverpool is simply horrific. A defender in January is an absolute must, and awkwardly for Liverpool, any potential sellers will know that.

Virgil Van Dijk’s injury is a crippling blow for the Reds ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY BLEACHER REPORT

According to the rumour mill, the Reds certainly won’t be short of targets. Names such as Dayot Upamecano and Perr Schurrs are lovely to hear, but their price tags surely won’t be.

Liverpool are often risk-averse in the market, with pursuits of players such as Alex Texeira and Ismaila Sarr dropped over exorbitant prices. However, due to the sheer amount of injuries at the club, it’s hard to see the Reds being able to be quite as hard-nosed in negotiations in January.

Eight players are unavailable to Jurgen Klopp, with their values, according to Transfermarkt, totalling almost £330 million. Given the lengthy injuries of Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk as well as Joel Matip’s patchy fitness history, the Reds will have no choice but to act.

The game against Brighton illustrated the issues Liverpool face with a lack of pace at the back. With his two usual centre-halves, Klopp can have faith in their pace and one on one ability if the line is turned around.

Dayot Upamecano is one of many top defenders linked to Liverpool recently. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY BUNDESLIGA.COM

Brighton’s front three were able to constantly find space behind Liverpool’s hopelessly one-paced centre-backs. Of course, the Reds could drop deeper to nullify this threat, but it makes ball progression a serious issue. Without the likes of Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil Van Dijk, the reds have become far easier to press. Moving the players back towards goal will only exacerbate this.

So a new centre-back with a turn of pace, and ideally an affinity for a long diagonal pass is a must to try and sort this issue. It’s, of course, unfair to think a player will come in and replace Virgil Van Dijk’s impact.  However, another centre-back could be the difference between a title defence and the season-ending as a disappointment. Liverpool will just have to add that into their January calculations if this season is to end in success.

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