Liverpool to gamble in January transfer window – with no centre-back signing likely

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Liverpool are unlikely to make a centre-back signing in the January transfer window, David Lynch writes for This Is Anfield, as they gamble based on previous mistakes.

The latest transfer window is no different to many others in recent memory in that it is far easier to say who Liverpool won’t sign rather than who they will.

Take, for example, the links with Sven Botman that arose less than a week ago off the back of a rather mischievous social media post from the Dutchman.

As the club who managed to sell Nicolas Pepe for £72 million amid similar ‘interest’ 18 months ago, Lille were never going to pour cold water on these latest reports.

But the message from the Reds’ perspective was consistent and clear: they do not hold an interest in signing the 20-year-old in January.

It is much the same for Felix Uduokhai, the Augsburg defender whose ‘young, talented but slightly obscure’ credentials made him stand out as an equally believable target when rumours recently surfaced.

This Is Anfield understands that the 23-year-old, who only made his loan move to Bavaria permanent over the summer, also won’t be arriving on Merseyside this month.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And so, as the shortlist of potential signings continues to shrink, the insistence that Liverpool might in fact make no January signings becomes all the more believable.

It is no doubt a stance that would dismay supporters, but would it be at all surprising when recent history is considered?

Ever since Fenway Sports Group’s arrival, it has not been uncommon for fans to end transfer windows asking whether more might have been done.

A refusal to sign players unless they are considered the perfect fit under this ownership is nothing new, and the belief in that approach has only been strengthened by recent successes.

Still, it is not hard to see why this window in particular would feel like a missed opportunity were no action to be taken.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. Southampton won 1-0. (Pic by Propaganda)

Jordan Henderson‘s appearance at centre-back against Southampton said plenty about Jurgen Klopp‘s trust – or lack thereof – in his younger options in that position.

And it does not bode particularly well for the Reds’ title chances if the plan for the remainder of the season is to simultaneously weaken both the back four and midfield to compensate for the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Of course, Liverpool would argue that signing the wrong centre-back would not only harm this year’s chances of glory but plenty of others down the line.

This is an ownership group that still bears the scars of locking itself into disastrous contracts with the likes of Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli and so simply signing any defender is not considered a viable option.

Ironically, though, this risk-averse approach comes bundled up with plenty of risk; not least the possibility that Manchester City – or, most painfully, Manchester United – could go on to dethrone the Reds with little resistance.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 6, 2020: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Liverpool do indeed go down the route of inaction, then they must at least hope they are able to get the injury-prone Joel Matip on the pitch more frequently than they have up to this point.

Yet while it was suggested this week that the defender could be back to face United on January 17, that prognosis is considered ambitious by those close to the club – an assessment that certainly tallies with his patchy fitness record.

And so the only guarantee ahead of that table-topping showdown is that, no matter which way the result goes, Liverpool’s transfer plans won’t be affected.

Whether that is for better or worse remains to be seen.

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