Article by Callum Sanderson
With the sudden, unfortunate but almost inevitable injury to Dejan Lovren against Wolves on Monday in the F.A Cup third round, this has left Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp without a recognisable first-team Centre-back to call upon for the upcoming few weeks.
Both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are due back in the coming weeks but with the importance of the Premier League and the need to push on further with City and Tottenham only a handful of points behind, is it time Klopp doubled-down and splashed out on a defender to continue the push for the Premier League title?
Here are 4 defenders Liverpool should sign in January:
- Eder Militao
The Brazilian centre-back from Porto is a highly rated player by many across the continent since arriving from Brasileirao for only €4 million in 2018. This talented youngster has seen links with Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United & Liverpool forming in recent weeks with the player having a reported €42.5 million release clause which no team has committed to paying as of yet.
The 20-year-old, who plays on the right hand-side of the centre-backs, has been a major part of the Porto team which has gone undefeated in Primeira Liga since the beginning of October after a 1-0 loss to rivals Benfica. His defensive stability, having only been dribbled past 1 out of 19 times so far this season, has allowed Porto to now boast a 6- point gap at the top of their domestic league.
Militao’s defensive game has allowed him to cement himself into the Porto starting XI and with his pass completion hit an average of 83.4% per game its clear to see his importance. His other strengths in his position continue to be higher than the rest of the league with his interceptions and clearances per 90 being 2.3 and 3.8 respectively. His performances at the Estadio do Dragao have not gone unnoticed and have landed him as the best rated of all centre-backs in Portugal’s top-tier competition along with recently being called up to the Brazil National squad for their game against El Salvador.
Without a doubt, Militao is a promising young player that still has far to go, but it is easy to see he would relish playing in a Klopp team that likes to play the ball out from the back and has improved significantly defensively and with possession. The Brazilian would be a welcome addition to the ‘Red Wall’ in-front of Alisson which would perfectly fit a player of his quality and continued development.
- Kalidou Koulibaly
The Senegalese international has caught the eyes of many of Europe’s elite the past months including Manchester United and Liverpool. His outstanding performances, which we saw first hand at the San Paolo Stadium in the 1-0 loss to Napoli has heralded him as one of the best centre-backs in the world.
Koulibaly’s explosive pace and physical advantage over many an attacker makes him such a sought-after commodity in today’s fast- paced attacking style of play which a lot of Europe’s top clubs employ. There is a need for such a world-class defender which is why rumours of Manchester United already having an offer of €90 million rejected from Napoli fuel expectations of him possibly departing Naples in the coming months or year.
Having played 18 times this season for the Serie A setup he has an incredible pass success rate of 88.6% along with an average of 74.2 passes per 90 which shows his skill and consistency in his play as the main man at the back for the Gli Azzuri under Carlo Ancelotti. He also boasts 3.9 clearances a game along with 1.5 interceptions for the Naples outfit.
For Klopp, bringing in such a defensive strongman to partner Virgil Van Dijk at the back would be yet another huge investment for Liverpool football club and would be seen by fans as FSG laying their cards on the table and showing their continued commitment to Klopp’s vision for his Liverpool team. The only possible question would be would such a headline signing hinder the already rocketing development of Joe Gomez in a Liverpool shirt under Jurgen.
- Lloyd Kelly
A possible cheaper option for Klopp to look at during the transfer window may be a player currently playing regular football in the Championship. The 20-year-old is a product of the Bristol City academy and has this season already proven his ability in a tough competitive league. The Bristol City left-back, who can also play in the centre, has played 23 times for the Robins this season even at such a young age in a competitive league. Kelly has also been capped at both England Under-20’s & 21’s level and has seen his maturity allow him to cement a place in City’s first team.
With his tall stature and physicality, he is a very good fit for what Klopp would want in a make-shift defender, but also allow him to develop further under Jurgen’s tutelage as already seen with Robertson, Gomez and Alexander-Arnold in the last 18 months.
The Bristol City defender has been getting stuck in this season so far racking up an impressive 2.4 clearances per league game has been winning 2.3 aerial duels along with 2.4 clearances per 90. Kelly can also play left-back for the Championship club, which often sees him pushing down the pitch and makes 1.2 successful dribbles per league game only losing possession 0.8 times a match.
With his young age and room for improvement across his overall game, Kelly is obviously not the finished article when compared to other possible transfer prospects in this window. However, if there’s something Klopp loves: it’s a young prospective talent who has the fight and push to continue his progress and improvement and maybe this could be a cheaper long-term investment for FSG rather than a January quick fix.
- Nico Elvedi
The Monchengladbach defender has been a stand out performer in the German Bundesliga so far this season and has been an important stalwart of the team that is sitting 3rd, only behind giant Bayern Munich by 3 points. Since arriving from FC Zurich in 2015 he has become a crucial player for his team. The 22-year-old Swiss international can play anywhere along the back line and has done 14 times so far for his domestic team. He was also involved in this seasons inaugural Nations League with the Swiss International team in which he scored in Switzerland’s 5-2 win against Belgium in November which saw them progress to the Finals in the Summer along with England, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Elvedi’s strong defensive game has seen him be ranked amongst the best in Germany for his position this season. With a pass completion of an incredible 91.9% it shows just how accurate and confident this player is in playing out from the back and under pressure too. His main strength in his game is his aerial prowess, seeing him win 2.6 aerial duels per game which has seen Borussia Monchengladbach only concede 18 goals this season which is equal with Bayern Munich 1 place ahead of them and 8 fewer than leaders Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. He also produces more clearances than any in the league, notching up 4.4 per game showing how important he is to that team but also his ability to snuff out danger effectively across the pitch.
Jurgen Klopp has hinted in the past about dipping into the Bundesliga for potential defensive additions to his squad and at the moment none would be better than Nico Elvedi, similar to others mentioned in the article, his age and talent already showing signs of a bright future and we’re sure ‘Big Shaq’ (Xherdan Shaqiri) could put in a good word for Jurgen.
Article by Callum Sanderson
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