Jamie Carragher has urged Liverpool to grab what he sees as a genuine chance to win the Premier League title by signing a top-class centre-half in the January transfer window.
The former Reds defender has concerned that a lack of strength in depth, especially in the central defensive areas, will undermine any chances they have of winning the title – and has suggested the club break the bank to sign Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.
Although Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has often spoken about Liverpool’s ‘long-term project’, he wants the club to ‘grasp the nettle’ and take their chance to win the title this season.
He writes in the Daily Mail:
‘We have heard about long-term projects at Liverpool before, as when Gerard Houllier spoke about having a five-year plan in the early 2000s, but this season might be Klopp’s best chance of winning the title.
‘It’s all well and good planning, but every club does that. Do you not think Pep Guardiola has an idea for Manchester City? Or Antonio Conte has a vision mapped out for Chelsea? How about Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford? You can’t think to yourself: we are good now but in five years we will be doing this.
‘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.
‘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.’