Neil Jones has highlighted the conundrum Liverpool could face in terms of prospective centre-back transfer activity.
Midfield has been the primary focus of the Reds’ summer so far, with two new signings in that regard and five senior players exiting, which has left the defence comparatively neglected.
Jurgen Klopp’s team have been linked with plenty of defenders in the off-season, including Levi Colwill, Perr Schuurs and Josko Gvardiol, but the dire need for attention in the middle of the park has taken priority.
Jones discussed a series of Liverpool-related topics in a guest piece for Fabrizio Romano’s Daily Briefing for CaughtOffside, stating that the need for new midfielders has taken precedence over a centre-back search, and that the Reds’ window of ideal defensive signings has narrowed somewhat.
He wrote: “In terms of players who’d fit the bill, it’s no secret that Liverpool liked Levi Colwill, though it now looks like he’s going to sign a long-term contract to stay at Chelsea.
“In the past I think they would also have been really keen on someone like Josko Gvardiol, but it looks like he’s going to Manchester City, so the pool of potential signings has already diminished.
“I think they’d need to look at someone who’s 21 or younger who could grow into the role taking over from [Joel] Matip when he leaves, and later on [Virgil] Van Dijk. There’s no obvious candidate, though, in what is looking like a difficult market.
“[Ibrahima] Konate was a good choice a couple of years ago when there were one or two others being considered too, while Van Dijk was head and shoulders above the rest when he joined, but there doesn’t look like an obvious equivalent now. I don’t see anyone of that ilk at this moment in time who Liverpool would be able to get.”
Jones make a very fair point about the pool of centre-back candidates (who are reasonably attainable) being narrower than what it had been previously. Colwill (20) and Gvardiol (21) would’ve been perfect, but as the journalist pointed out, their futures appear to lay elsewhere.
Although the focus on midfield has been very much necessary this summer, and continues to be, it’s nonetheless frustrating that it now looks increasingly as if the transfer window will come and go without Liverpool making a single defensive signing.
Van Dijk and Konate are a tremendous combination when both are available, but both have had injury problems in recent months (Transfermarkt), and the former is now 32.
Matip and Joe Gomez have a point to prove after a difficult 2022/23 campaign, while Nat Phillips’ inability to nudge his way into Klopp’s thinking despite the Reds’ defensive troubles last term (49 league goals conceded) starkly illustrates where he lies in the pecking order.
If Liverpool don’t bring in a defender this month and they continue to leak goals at the rate that they did last season, centre-back must be every bit as much a priority in January as midfield has been this summer.