Liverpool focused all their efforts on revitalising their depleted midfield unit, but may end up paying the price for not signing a centre-back.
Last year saw Liverpool punished for not investing in their midfield and fast forward 12 months that same mistake may be about to repeat itself in regards to Jurgen Klopp’s defence. Liverpool spent the entire summer transfer window making changes in midfield with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson all leaving.
New arrivals were needed and there’s already been promising signs from Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister while Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenbercnh will undoubtedly be needed at some point. But Liverpool’s summer business stopped there as they opted against bolstering their defensive line.
Given the fitness concerns of Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in recent years, Liverpool were expected to sign another centre-back. Virgil van Dijk has been the one constant in the heart of Liverpool’s back line, but he’s unavailable this weekend for the match against Wolves due to his suspension being extended.
More worrying though is Trent Alexander-Arnold’s knock that ruled him out of international duty for England. The right-back is an injury doubt after pulling his hamstring against Aston Villa – an issue that may prove Liverpool were wrong not to bring in more defensive cover.
Konate is also still recovering from his own injury issue, leaving Klopp short of options for the match against Wolves. The Liverpool boss may be left in a position where he’s forced to start 20-year-old Jarell Quansah alongside Matip, with Gomez pushed to right-back.
Quansah has impressed in his two cameo appearances this season, particularly in Liverpool’s 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle. But Liverpool’s rivals don’t have similar concerns in defence as they addressed their shortcomings this summer.
Manchester City paid big money to bring in Liverpool target Josko Gvardiol to add to Pep Guardiola’s solid back line. Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, John Stones, Manuel Akanji, Rico Lewis and Kyle Walker are all competing for starting spots in Guardiola’s defensive unit.
Top players will miss out every week for City’s starting line-up, but having them ready at a moment’s notice to step in without disrupting the team’s rhythm is what has made them so dominant during Guardiola’s reign. Klopp will no doubt trust whoever he chooses to step in should neither Konate or Alexander-Arnold be fit to face Wolves.
Quansah may well emerge as a top talent capable of being more than a role player, saving Liverpool millions in the transfer market. But it is also a gamble that may also blow up in Liverpool’s face if they harbour hopes of truly challenging City for the Premier League title this season.