Monday, January 25, 2021

January transfer business ´not likely´ for Liverpool

SoccerNews in English Premier League 7 Jan 2021

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Liverpool are set to stick with their threadbare options at centre-back rather than recruiting a January replacement for Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez. 

The Reds have played much of the season so far with midfielder Fabinho in defence alongside a rotating cast of partners after long-term injuries to their starting duo. 

Joel Matip has been limited to just eight Premier League appearances due to his own fitness issues and is facing a race to be back for a vital game against Manchester United next week. 

Academy graduates have stepped in, with Nathaniel Phillips playing three times and Rhys Williams twice in the league, while captain Jordan Henderson lined up at centre-back in Monday’s defeat to Southampton. 

Although Henderson and Fabinho won nine of the 11 duels they contested between them in that match and still ranked second and third for total touches, it is not an ideal fix. 

And such issues have prompted reports of interest in Schalke’s Ozan Kabak and Lille’s Sven Botman, although The Athletic reported on Thursday that Liverpool will not pursue either option in the mid-season window. 

Jurgen Klopp said prior to the game against Southampton that the club would do “the right thing” this month – and that appears to mean opting against a new signing. 

Asked if he could rule out a transfer as he previewed the scheduled trip to Aston Villa in the FA Cup, Klopp replied: “I cannot say definitely we will not bring one in. It’s just not likely because of the situation in the world. 

“We should not forget that the [coronavirus] situation is a tough one for all people and for football clubs as well.

“There might be some clubs with absolutely no financial problems, but this club always was and will always be – with these owners, for sure – very responsible with the things we do. 

“If the world would be in a normal place, everything would be fine, we won the league, won the Champions League, the club is in the best possible situation, and you have three senior centre-halves all injured, is that a situation where you would normally do something? Yes, definitely. 

“But we are not in that situation, so I don’t know if something will happen or not. 

“We maybe could do something, but it would be a short-term solution and we don’t have a short-term solution, so it’s not right because it does not help. 

“We have to get through this. It’s not the best moment for the whole planet, so why should it be for this football club?” 

While rotation has been enforced in the middle of the defence, full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have remained automatic picks. 

Alexander-Arnold tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-season and has also battled a calf injury, yet has still played 15 of Liverpool’s 17 league matches. 

The right-back’s performance level has dipped this season and his first error leading to a goal handed Southampton a 1-0 win on Monday. 

There was criticism of Alexander-Arnold after that match, in which he was substituted, and Klopp acknowledged on Thursday it was “not his best game”, though backed the England international to recover. 

“The reason is he was out for a while with COVID and had an injury which didn’t help,” Klopp said. “He had no pre-season really. 

“Then with the quality he has and the situation we were in, he played pretty early. He’s now getting there. 

“Physically he’s fine, he just has to find his top shape again, and that will happen sooner rather than later.”

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