16 centre-backs with expiring contracts Liverpool could target for January deal

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So, are we at desperation point yet? Fear not, the January window is just seven short weeks away, when defensive reinforcements can be sought and bought.

Seven weeks, one senior centre-back, 11 matches – that’s what stands between the Reds and the new year. There’s a 12th game on 2 January, mind, if a deal isn’t wrapped up in time for the opening days of the window.

With Joe Gomez joining Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines for the long term, Liverpool have three clear choices:

  • Believe the alternatives at the club are good enough to win the title
  • Bring forward a planned summer signing, potentially a top name at huge cost
  • Or seek out a lower-cost, quick cover option from players seeking a move

While option No. 2 might be the preference of fans, it simply might not be plausible: let’s say it’s social media’s favourite winter signing, Dayot Upamecano. He may not want to leave Leipzig mid-season. Die Roten Bullen might opt against selling a key name while they are still in the Champions League. He could even pick up a long-term injury, who knows.

So it’s worth considering the alternatives: which players might be available because they are running down their contract and the selling club has less room for bargaining.

Here are a collection of eight possible avenues to consider and…well, eight more if we really do get desperate and need someone who could at least be a Steven Caulker-esque loan to fill the bench and go up front for five minutes against Burnley in the depths of January.

 

David Alaba

SWANSEA, WALES - Wednesday, February 6, 2013: Austria's David Alaba in action against Wales during the International Friendly at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by Tom Hevezi/Propaganda)

Might as well start at the top, right?

Bayern’s David Alaba is agitating for a move, we’re led to believe, and the Reds have already been linked with him more than once.

So far the contenders appear to be the usual suspects: Barca, Juve, United, City. He’d fit at least a couple of them well.

His wages are the big stumbling block, not to mention the fact centre-back isn’t his natural role…and where would he play when the big man returns? Left-back, centre-mid? We have plenty in both, we don’t use a No. 10 and he’s not really a winger.

Definitely the best ‘player’ on the list, but some mid-term questions remain over suitability for the Reds.

 

Eric Garcia

On a scale of one to a Fabinho thunderbolt from 30 yards, how much would it rile City if we nabbed one of their Academy graduates on nearly a free?

Quite a lot we’d imagine – which is why it’s unlikely they’d agree to any kind of a sale. Garcia has made it perfectly clear he wants to leave and Barcelona appears his likely destination.

He has been hit and miss so far in terms of his actual defensive work, but he has only just graduated to being a Premier League player, after all.

 

Jerome Boateng

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Sunday, August 23, 2020: FC Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng (L) and David Alaba celebrate with the European Cup trophy as Bayern win it for the sixth time after the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. FC Bayern Munich won 1-0. (Credit: ©UEFA)

One? The other? Both?! While Bayern are trying to keep hold of Alaba (right), they have no such worries over Jerome Boateng (left) running down his contract.

With Niklas Sule et al already in place in the centre, it’s not a great surprise, and Boateng has inconsistencies to his game in any case, positionally and while in possession.

But he’s definitely one of the potential considerations, given a likely availability, his experience in winning trophies, the fact he can still kick with both feet…

 

Mykola Matviyenko

A rarity on the list as he’s not approaching pensioner status, aged just 24. Matvienko is a 29-cap Ukraine international, so work permits should be fine, while he plays both central and left for Shakhtar Donetsk.

Positives: a potential longer-term squad option, was £20m-rated in summer so perhaps only half that now.

Negatives: the last Ukrainian for the Reds was Andriy Voronin and Everton thought he’d be a good addition in summer.

 

Aissa Mandi

Aissa Mandi of Real Betis during the match Real Madrid v Real Betis, of LaLiga 2019/2020 season, date 12. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid, Spain, 2 Nov 2019 (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)

Ahhh, Aissa Mandi. The man we were definitely, 100 per cent, absolutely going to sign from Real Betis to replace Dejan Lovren over the summer.

Nothing stemmed from those rumours, likely because they were nonsense in the first place. But six months down the line, is the same still true?

He’s a regular in the line-up, is excellent in moving the ball around, not bad in his clearances and so on, and will be cheaper. At £10-12m or whatever the price was over summer, it was obviously a no-go. At a £2m bargain or loan cover for a few months? Maybe.

 

Mateo Musacchio

Experience, brilliance on the ball, good positional work and utterly determined commitment to the cause have all come as standard for Musacchio for years.

Unfortunately, so too has been a lack of pace and constant injuries.

Probably not what we’re looking for right at the moment then, but still, if it’s just a half-season loan…

 

Nikola Maksimovic

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Sunday, July 28, 2019: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (L) and SSC Napoli's Nikola Maksimovi? during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Murrayfield Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Napoli’s finest, at one time. Or Koulibaly’s replacement, at another. Or shunted out to right-back to make space for Manolas, at another. As his stock has fallen and his contract has dwindled, Maksimovic is now a backup in Naples who largely plays in the Europa League.

They aren’t likely to cling on to him too hard if an offer is forthcoming, but then, neither should any buying club be expecting fireworks.

He’s about to 29 and is a giant of a man, so this isn’t exactly a defender with recovery pace to burn, rather an effective repellent of aerial bombardments or the experienced man to hold the line down with one of the youngsters.

 

Sven Bender

One Jurgen knows well, why not? Bender was a midfielder for Klopp back in the Dortmund days, but more regularly features in defence for Leverkusen now.

There’s no particular reason to suggest he’s available; it’s not like Boateng, who won’t be given a new deal, or like Maksimovic, who isn’t in the team.

Bender is playing regularly, has an important role as a leader, has brother Lars at right-back and B04 have started the season well.

But still, when an old friend like Jurgen comes calling at a time of need…

 

And 8 more who could be last resort options…

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 8, 2019: Leicester City's Jonny Evans during the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Leicester City FC at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Victor Ruiz – Real Betis
  • Good aerially, reliable, decent in possession. A cool player with a good career behind him.

  • Jeffrey Bruma – Wolfsburg
  • Sent out on loan last season. Injured this season. He’s a back-up when fit anyway. Can run a bit and pass out, and used to cover full-back.

  • Jonny Evans – Leicester
  • He “knows the league”. Stalling on a new Foxes deal. Top of the table…for now.

  • Luis Abram – Velez
  • Wants a move to Europe. Peru regular. Never enough South Americans, right?

  • Lamine Kone – Strasbourg
  • Semi-regular for a rubbish side. Loves a big challenge and happy to carry the ball forward. Don’t ask him to play 40-yard passes.

  • Marcelo – Lyon
  • Experienced, wily old chap. Looks better in a three. Consistent enough.

  • Fabian Schar – Newcastle
  • We were linked with him under Rafa. Can play defensive mid and is decent when he’s good, horrid when he’s bad.

  • David LuizArsenal – What’s that sound? Yes, it appears to be a scraping of the bottom of the barrel!

Let us know your preferred option in the comments below – and whether the Reds should be looking for a shorter-term solutions such as these, or looking to go big for the present and future when the window opens.

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