January transfer windows often flatter to deceive but this year’s at the very least seems to be setting us up for a number standout deals.
Whether Liverpool decide to loosen the purse strings remains to be seen considering how well they are performing at the moment, perched in second place with the opportunity to put some real daylight between themselves and Manchester City after the pair’s clash at Anfield on Saturday evening, however Reds legend Jamie Carragher believes there are still some areas open to improvement in the squad, namely in defence.
Before going into detail about the Merseysiders’ need for more star names in this department though, Carragher wrote in his Daily Mail column of how Liverpool’s squad depth in general isn’t quite where it should be yet.
“When an opportunity comes, you have to be ready to take it and I wonder whether Liverpool will be able to sustain what they are doing.
“The bench against Stoke on Tuesday, for instance, was a concern because it lacked depth and Mane going to the Africa Cup of Nations is another blow.”
In addition to Mane’s imminent departure, Liverpool’s attack has already been blunted by the absence of Philippe Coutinho – a player Carragher describes as the only member of the current team worthy of being included in the last two squads to have come close to winning the title in 2008/09 and 2013/14 respectively.
But it is in defence where Carragher seems to be most concerned. In addition to being unconvinced by Jurgen Klopp’s goalkeeping options, the former Liverpool man says that the club need to invest in a defender, even naming the highly regarded Virgil van Dijk as a potential signing.
“Joel Matip has impressed me since he arrived on a free from Schalke but he’s had fitness issues, as has Dejan Lovren. I know Klopp holds Joe Gomez, an England Under 21 international who is working his way back to fitness, in high regard but I still think he needs a defender.
“Would he or the board ever be willing to fight Manchester City or Chelsea for the £40m signature of Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk?
“Klopp said he won’t buy someone simply for January but for future seasons and he’s right. But if he wants someone next month he has to be backed, as the stakes could get very big for Liverpool in 2017.”
With the opportunity to move four points clear of City heading into 2017, Carragher has hit the nail on the head when it comes to what the rest of the season could hold for Liverpool. It is a fair assumption too that with 45 goals scored there is one end of the pitch which needs more attention in the transfer window.
While City and Arsenal – in third and fourth respectively – have conceded a similar amount of goals to the Reds (21), Chelsea have been the standard bearers this term at the back with just eleven goals finding there way past the hugely talented Thibaut Courtois.
If the Blues keep this up for the rest of the campaign it is at this end of the pitch in which the season could be won or lost for Liverpool. Perhaps Klopp should on this occasion heed the advice of the ex-player turned pundit.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena