Liverpool’s latest setback saw them crash out of the Carabao Cup, 2-0 away from home at the hands of Leicester City. Although Jurgen Klopp watched his side dominate the first period, the crucial goal eluded them – allowing Leicester to regroup at halftime and come backfiring.
Throughout the first half, Liverpool had plenty of success coming from the left had side – Philippe Coutinho and Andrew Robertson were linking up superbly.
But after significant pressure and some missed opportunities, it was Leicester’s forced substitute in Shinji Okazaki who broke the deadlock in the 65th minute.
The game was then all but finished when Islam Slimani struck a thunderous effort to Danny Ward’s right-hand side leaving him hopeless as it sailed into the top corner and reminded Leicester fans why their club made him their record transfer signing.
In an interview post-match with Sky Sports, Klopp seemed to show signs that his team’s defensive frailties are starting to demoralise him personally.
‘The second ball after a corner, and a throw-in… I am sick of goals like this. You cannot play football. The first goal we don’t push up together, you can say it one time or one-thousand times, it’s not nice to concede these goals, and today it’s again because of these,’ he said.
This outburst seems to indicate that Klopp is very much looking at every aspect of his side amid the fact that many Liverpool fans across social media have been frustrated with his seemingly one style high-pressing attacking football.
Many fans believed their Christmas had come early when news broke of what initially seemed like the beginning of something special, the arrival of Virgil van Dijk.
However, this deal soon collapsed after reports emerged of Liverpool allegedly ‘tapping up’ the player, which left fans scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.
Vast amounts of football fans in general – including Jamie Carragher a dedicated Liverpool fan and former player who blasted Klopp back in February, when he said the following regarding the situation, ‘There’s no way you are going to win anything conceding that amount of goals, it’s just impossible to do that.’
Carragher seems to believe Liverpool’s summer business was wasted. Southampton had no hesitation in shutting down any potential deal for Van Dijk. So, why were no other options explored?
In previous weeks past Klopp was, of course, asked questions about his defence but shrugged them off adamant that he was content with his defensive options but in truth Liverpool lack a solid pairing.
However, this seems to be changing after their latest run of form that has left them winless in four.
Of course, defending is an art and is perfected with a unit which would include the full-backs as well as the centre-backs.
At present though, there are plenty of different options available for selection in this position, who seem to be all trying to provide healthy competition and putting in performances as of late.
Centre-back has been a problem area for a while, and the Reds arguably weakened their choices in the heart of defence by allowing Mamadou Sakho to join Crystal Palace despite some fans feeling he is the best defender at the club.
Klopp currently has Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez as his first-team centre-back options.
Lovren and Klavan’s mistakes have proved costly for the Reds this season with Matip lacking a consistent centre-back partner to bring out the best of his abilities. Gomez has frequently been used at right-back this season.
With the January transfer window Liverpool’s next opportunity to strengthen their backline, who would be good options? Would you place a bet on any of these going to Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk – Southampton
The obvious candidate that many fans and professionals feel would be an outstanding signing would be the man Liverpool chased all summer long.
The Dutchman is a real presence and who often can be seen to command his fellow defenders would be a very key asset should he join the club. Joining the saints from Celtic in a £12m deal he has had little struggles adapting to the physicality of the Premier League.
Alfie Mawson – Swansea
Many clubs seem to want to look at foreign players as opposed to seeing what is already on show in the Premier League.
Admittedly, it is often found that high-quality players tend to be from elsewhere but in some cases, there has been English talent that has thrived even at the elite clubs within the division, for example, Dele Alli and Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur.
Another case you could look at is perhaps Phil Jones who seems to be thriving recently at Manchester United alongside Eric Bailly.
Not long-ago, Alfie Mawson was earning his keep at Barnsley before an opportunity of Premier League football arose at Swansea City.
Since then he has not looked back, with his most recent league game resulting in an away point at Spurs as well as a clean sheet. The early stages of his Premier League dream weren’t always the easiest, but as of late he has excelled, earning him a place in the most recent English U21’s squad.
A player with real heart and determination to succeed Mawson can be seen to be pushing for the best out of his teammates.
Calm and composed, Mawson is an essential asset at Swansea, and it would almost certainly take a substantial sum for them to part ways with him but could he be a cheaper alternative to Van Dijk?
Federico Fazio – Roma
Formerly of Spurs, Federico Fazio plays a pivotal role in Roma’s back four.
Although he is what you could class as an ageing player at the age of 30, he could still be a good option to look at regarding the fact he would add the experience needed.
As well as this he would almost certainly look to prove a point in the Premier League after what was a difficult time last time, in England.
Predominantly right-footed, he currently operates on either side of Roma’s central defensive pairing.
Even though he perhaps isn’t the biggest name and it is possible that Liverpool would look at other options, Fazio is a player that would be very much affordable, while he could also most likely be tempted by the interest of a club like Liverpool should it arise.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Borussia Dortmund
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Borussia Dortmund
Sokratis Papastathopoulos has been linked with moves to the Premier League recently and has the experience that you would like to see if you are a big club like Liverpool such as playing in the Champions League.
Papastathopolos isn’t the biggest of defenders standing in at only 6”1’, but his physicality is certainly something that would stand him good stead should he ever join the Premier League.
So, what do you think about Liverpool’s current options? Also, are there any possible options that I have maybe not looked at that you believe would be suitable?
By James Miller – [@_JimmyMiller]