Steven Caulker joined Liverpool on loan on this day in 2016
The January transfer window is wide open – and Liverpool have already brought in attacker Cody Gakpo in a deal worth an initial £37m.
There are plenty of calls among fans for Jurgen Klopp to secure a midfielder next, with Liverpool struggling in that department for much of this season so far.
But waiting for the right signing has always been a hallmark of Klopp and the FSG era. Jude Bellingham is a clear target and that battle looks set to unfold in summer.
Yet many supporters believe the club should compromise and get someone in now who could at least help for the rest of this campaign. That may be easier said than done, however – and it is the kind of move rarely seen at Liverpool in recent years.
One time Klopp did look to cover a short-term lack of players was on this day in January 2016 when signing Steven Caulker on loan. But the Reds boss would later publicly suggest he had acted hastily in adding to his ranks.
Suffering a defensive injury crisis at the time, the Reds had been left with veteran Kolo Toure as the only senior centre-back option available with Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho all sidelined.
Midfielder Lucas Leiva was being tasked with fulfilling an unfamiliar role as a short-term fix, while the lesser-spotted Tiago Ilori and unwanted left-back Jose Enrique had been the centre-back pairing days before Caulker’s arrival against Exeter City in the FA Cup.
But a few weeks later, Klopp was boasting a plethora of options.
“Now we have too many centre-halves,” the Reds boss conceded ahead of his side’s Europa League clash with Manchester United in March 2016.
“The day before we put the squad list in we didn’t have any. Now we have too many and you think: ‘My God what have we done?’
“That was the thing we had to do at that time. Now we have to get into the next round with the players we have available.”
Caulker made just four appearances during his time at Liverpool, amounting to only a handful of minutes in the Premier League with the defender infamously being utilised as a makeshift striker on each occasion.
His only start, and only appearance at centre-back, came in an FA Cup draw with West Ham United at the end of January, while two unused substitute appearances in February were the closest he came to featuring during the remainder of his temporary Reds career.
Since his spell at Anfield, Caulker has spent time with a variety of clubs – including a stint at Dundee and four years in Turkey with four different sides.
But earlier this month, the 31-year-old confirmed a move back to England and joined Wigan Athletic.
Posting on social media this week, Caulker said: “5 years 106 days after my last game in the championship, I am back. I’ve spent days, weeks, months, and years dreaming that one day I will return.
“Here I am. Wiser. Stronger. Happier. I know it’s going to be a huge challenge given our current league position, but it’s a challenge that I am looking forward too. Nothing good comes easy right.
“A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support me on this journey, it means a lot to know I am not alone.”
Wigan, managed by ex-Liverpool man Kolo Toure, are currently bottom of the Championship table with just 24 points. But there is a long way to go – and Caulker is clearly ready for the fight.
*A version of this article was originally published in January 2022.