Time to revisit the loan system? How Liverpool could approach the January transfer window

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What do you get that person who seems to have everything? It’s quite an apt moment of the year to ask such a question for Liverpool.

Wracking your brains to get that little bit of something that would be nice, or necessary.

This conundrum is what the January transfer window is to Liverpool. How refreshing it is to make this rather convoluted comparison.

Season upon season, the Reds had always cried out for those extra personnel. The game-changers, characters to inspire. Make something happen.

No longer. Now, we find ourselves at the turn of a decade with Jurgen Klopp at the helm, steering the ship back into success-laden waters of old.

Takumi Minamino has already checked in at Melwood, dusted the medical and posed for the photos. Liverpool’s recruitment team is pure clockwork and works off a time unit nobody else is reading.

So, what do you buy for the team that looks to be glistening from every angle?

BERLIN, GERMANY - Saturday, July 29, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp chats with owner John W. Henry before a preseason friendly match celebrating 125 years of football for Liverpool and Hertha BSC Berlin at the Olympic Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s important to note that the Reds are where they are purely due to a carefully crafted system. John W. Henry and the business brains at Fenway took the Moneyball model and ran with it, right into a fresh territory of its own.

Big names have been bought during the reign, a world-record defender and goalkeeper within 12 months of each other, and big names have been sold.

Expense can and will be catered for, providing the books balance and a deal makes complete sense.

Over at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola and his wounded Man City tribe must now somehow massage themselves back to life. They will add in January without a single doubt, yet so must Liverpool.

Reinforcements are needed, with the Liverpool juggernaut only two or three serious injuries away from being left worryingly bare.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 30, 2019: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the first goal wth a header during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. Van Dijk scored both goals as Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk’s precautionary illness absence due in the Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey gave a glimpse of what could be.

Jordan Henderson did an exemplary job filling in, but a team competing on two elite fronts can ill-afford to place themselves in such a position for the long haul.

Liverpool are blazing an unprecedented trail in the Premier League, but giving up the title of European champions in the process is certainly not part of the plan.

The Reds can, and will, compete to the death on both fronts. For that they need personnel.

With Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho on the slow comeback trail, leaving Joe Gomez as Van Dijk’s only senior centre-back partner, large bets can be placed on the Liverpool recruitment database crunching the numbers on defensive statistics around the globe.

Talented, consistent defenders are becoming increasingly harder to find. When it comes to mid-season deals, they’re harder still.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 25, 2019: Liverpool's Ki-Jana Hoever is replaced by substitute Sepp Van Den Berg during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between MK Dons FC and Liverpool FC at Stadium MK. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds have already invested for the future in the form of incredibly exciting Dutch duo Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg but, for the here and now, some form of stop-gap is needed.

We’ve been here before. The mind of course immediately wanders back to the unveiling of Steven Caulker.

Everyone was bemused by that loan signing, perhaps most of all the player himself.

Back then Klopp was merely salvaging rather than rebuilding. The contrast these days could not be more stark.

While an ageing Caulker doppelgänger won’t be strolling through the Melwood doors during the first month of 2020, Liverpool could do far worse than to consider revisiting the lesser-used loan market once more.

PARIS, FRANCE - Wednesday, November 28, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) and Paris Saint-Germain's Thilo Kehrer during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool FC at Parc des Princes. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Over in Paris, the highly rated Thilo Kehrer finds himself bench-warming week in, week out, with Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Abdou Diallo ahead of him in the pecking order.

Of course, talent of this calibre—with Champions League experience—provides huge attraction, but the complexities of such mid-season deals are endless.

Liverpool can point to the fact Adrian has enjoyed plentiful opportunities this season after arriving to fill a void, but January defensive backups will be well aware no concrete promises are on the table.

Scanning the Premier League, individuals out of contract in the summer are always prime candidates to take as a January snip—with clubs cashing in on a last-minute fire sale.

Naturally, Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen features as the pick of the bunch, though the north London club remain keen to get an extension nailed.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 15, 2018: Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen reacts after striking Liverpool Roberto Firmino in the eye during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Plus, the chances of Jose Mourinho allowing a cut-price deal to help Liverpool claim the prize their crave are nonexistent. Nose-cutting to spite the face comes to mind.

Bournemouth’s soon-to-be out-of-contract Jack Simpson provides an interesting gamble of an option, though the Cherries currently find themselves as one of the most injury-hampered sides in the top flight, losing numbers by the week.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s transfer strategy and awareness in the last few years has become that sharp that supporters no longer need to mull over hypothetical comings and goings.

Signings, these days, are pencilled in before the rumour mill even begins to whir.

DOHA, QATAR - Saturday, December 21, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Final match between CR Flamengo and Liverpool FC at the Khalifa Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

It’s not in the slightest hyperbole to say Liverpool are edging towards the cusp of greatness. Not just a good season, but straight-up greatness. The finest of all.

To take such a step without a fully stocked defensive unit may well prove to be a poor error of judgement.

In the days that come, Liverpool’s intentions will be made clear.

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