Liverpool are expected to be in the market for a new centre-back in the upcoming transfer window, with five possible targets rumoured over the weekend.
When the next window opens is unclear at this stage, with an end date for the current campaign not set due to the season’s suspension.
The weekend’s papers have presented a number of possible options if Klopp turns to the transfer market, with two viable even if Lovren stays on Merseyside.
One of the most prominent is Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez, with Spanish publication AS claiming he “fits the bill” for the calibre of defender required.
The Uruguayan is “commanding in the air as well as comfortable with the ball at his feet,” and AS believe that his squad role under Diego Simeone could “open the door” for a move away after seven years in Madrid.
Gimenez’s contract with Atletico runs until 2023, and includes a £110 million release clause, but it is suggested that he could be available for a more acceptable fee.
A red flag for Liverpool could be his “injury ravaged” season, however, as though it has led AS to claim Gimenez may be “considering his options,” it also highlights a possible issue in their recruitment process.
He has suffered minor problems in most seasons since establishing himself in the Atletico side, and only twice has he made more than 30 appearances in a campaign.
AS also mention two other candidates for the Reds, with the most eye-catching being RB Leipzig’s France youth international Dayot Upamecano.
Upamecano is considered one of the best young centre-backs in world football, and followed the same path from Salzburg to Leipzig as Naby Keita, playing alongside the Guinean on 34 occasions in his final season in Germany.
The 21-year-old is tall, strong, quick and already boasts considerable experience, with 93 top-flight appearances and 26 more across the Champions League and Europa League, while he is comfortable in both a three- or four-man defence.
The third option suggested by AS is Inter Milan’s 20-year-old Alessandro Bastoni, who has made 17 outings for the Serie A side after loan spells with Atalanta and Parma.
Bastoni is a burgeoning prospect who could be a more feasible signing than Upamecano, though it is unlikely Inter would part ways for a low fee.
N’Dicka has been a regular for Frankfurt since joining from Auxerre in 2018, and has most recently been deployed as a left-back over a 13-game stint which has showcased his versatility.
As a left-footed centre-back who is also comfortable at full-back, N’Dicka could provide cover for both Van Dijk and Andy Robertson, which would suit Klopp’s preference for flexibility over specialist options.
Finally, the Mirror have linked the Reds with Schalke teenager Malick Thiaw, whose release clause currently stands at just £7 million.
Thiaw is 6’3″ and described as a “powerful, tall, ball-playing defender, who can also play as a defensive midfielder,” which has led to comparisons with Joel Matip.
At 18, he would find himself in a similar position to Van den Berg and Hoever, and given his low price tag he could be a sensible addition to provide Liverpool with young, talented cover for Klopp’s established back line.
These rumours should certainly be taken with a pinch of salt at this stage, particularly given the current situation, but the prospect of Liverpool signing Thiaw and N’Dicka is an interesting one.
Perhaps more so than bringing in a player like Gimenez or Upamecano, as their status would no doubt require an unnecessary reshuffle of Klopp’s pecking order.