Five positions Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp must prioritise in the January transfer window after Leeds embarrassment
Liverpool’s poor start to the season continued with a home defeat to Leeds on Saturday and Jurgen Klopp needs to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window.
The Reds have now won just four of their opening 12 Premier League games in 2022/23 and find themselves in ninth place. However, they are now nearer the relegation zone in terms of points accrued than they are the top of the table.
Klopp has already ruled Liverpool out of the title race, while three of their defenders feature in this Premier League disappointments of the season.
And while a title push already looks beyond them, they may still need some January signings if they to finish in the top four.
We’ve taken a look at five areas that Klopp could now look to strengthen in the January transfer window if funds are available.
Liverpool have been renowned for their defensive solidarity in recent years and they had the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League last season, shipping just 26 league goals.
But the Reds have looked a lot less convincing defensively at the start of the current campaign, conceding 15 goals in their opening 12 Premier League games.
Virgil van Dijk has been one of the Premier League’s best players in recent seasons, but he hasn’t been his usual imperious self of late.
“I know I could have done better in the beginning of the season,” Van Dijk admitted recently. “I’m not naive about that. I know very well when I make mistakes.”
While the Netherlands international can still turn things around, he turned 31 this year and Joel Matip is also in his 30s so they need to invest in another centre-back.
Fellow centre-backs Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez were regarded as the future of Liverpool’s defence but they have both struggled with injury problems.
According to reports, Klopp is an ‘admirer’ of Southampton’s Armed Bella-Kotchap and sees him as a long-term replacement for Van Dijk at Anfield.
RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol would be a more expensive alternative, but he is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders.
While Trent Alexander-Arnold has played an integral part of Liverpool’s success in recent years, his defensive frailties have been laid bare this season.
The right-back recently had a really difficult afternoon against Arsenal and struggled against Gabriel Martinelli before an injury spared him any further embarrassment.
“If I was playing now against Liverpool, the first thing the manager would be saying is, ‘Get the ball out left, get one-on-one with Trent’, because defensively… he’s a League One defender,” Jamie O’Hara said after the game.
“It’s League One defending, but he’s Champions League going forwards. [Jurgen] Klopp knows that, he loves his attacking abilities, but defensively he’s all over the place.
“The second goal, where’s he going? He’s Bambi on ice! I love Trent, he’s a fantastic player at a young age, won more than me in one season, but as a defender he is not good enough. He needs to work on his game, get a one-on-one coach and he needs to sort it out.”
The 24-year-old could soon make his long-anticipated switch to a midfield role, allowing Liverpool to target a right-back that can defend properly.
They already have Calvin Ramsay on their books but reportedly sent a scout to watch Galatasaray’s Sacha Boey during a game against Konyaspor.
SAKA PUTS ARSENAL BACK IN FRONT 🔴
What a counter-attack! ⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/In35yzcZh2
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 9, 2022
It’s no secret that midfield is the main area Liverpool will need to strengthen in 2023.
Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have both had difficult starts to the 2022/23 season while Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain are all out of contract at the end of the campaign.
The Reds tried to sign Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco during the summer transfer window, but he rejected them and joined Real Madrid in an £85.3m deal.
“We were going for a midfielder but a midfielder decided to go to another club, so that can happen,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
“So in that moment it’s now not just like this, ‘Oh we don’t take him, then let’s see if we can take the other one.’ Some players are in this moment not available but for us really interesting, so that’s how it is.”
Liverpool ultimately signed Arthur Melo on a season-long loan deal, but he’s made just one substitute appearance so far and they are unlikely to exercise their option to buy the midfielder next year.
The Reds have reportedly made Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham their top transfer target and are willing to break their transfer record but a January move appears out of the question.
While Liverpool will undoubtedly wait for Bellingham, they need to completely revamp their midfield and should look to sign a couple of midfielders in the January transfer window.
Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic, Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka would all help protect the back four and could be available in January.
After selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018, Liverpool never really signed a direct replacement for the Brazilian.
The Reds have since got their attacking threat from the full-backs, with Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson establishing themselves as Liverpool’s primary creators.
But the duo haven’t been at their best in 2022/23 and Liverpool need other players to step up and provide some creativity.
Jurgen Klopp has sometimes used a 4-2-3-1 formation this season but they don’t have an attacking midfielder like Kevin De Bruyne, Martin Odegaard or Bruno Fernandes.
While Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho are exciting and talented prospects, Liverpool need a more established No 10 in order to compete with their rivals.
Leicester City’s James Maddison has plenty of Premier League experience and would provide Liverpool with a goal threat from midfield and the creative spark that they’re sorely lacking.
James Maddison for England surely?
On fire 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/xKh4wu0iG8
— England Football Fans (@EnglidsAway) October 3, 2022
Despite spending a lot of money on forwards this year, Liverpool still need to add more firepower to their squad in 2023.
The Reds spent an initial £37.5m to sign Luis Diaz in January and then replaced Sadio Mane with Darwin Nunez, who cost a club-record £85m.
Nunez has endured a difficult start to his Liverpool career while Diaz is currently on the sideliens due to a knee injury.
Jurgen Klopp’s side still have Mohamed Salah, but he has scored just four goals in 12 Premier League games this season.
Since the start of the 2018/19 season, Salah has played 17,967 minutes of Premier League football and no outfield player can match that total over the same period. He also played 70 games for club and country in 2021/22 and probably needs a rest.
If Liverpool sign another winger in January, they can become less reliant on Salah and a new arrival might also help the 30-year-old rediscover his best form.
PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk have both been in excellent form this season and Liverpool have also been linked with Ibrahim Adel, who is regarded as the most exciting Egyptian prospect since Salah.
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