Premier League • England

Klopp puts foot down on two shock January deals, third Liverpool move ‘expected’

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

Liverpool expert James Pearce predicts Jurgen Klopp will refuse two intriguing January deals, though a third is likely to go through next month.

Liverpool dipped into the market last January as their season threatened to unravel. A crippling injury crisis saw Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies brought to Anfield to shore up the central defensive ranks.

While Davies’ impact was negligible, Kabak helped stabilise the Reds’ backline and allowed Liverpool to charge towards Champions League qualification.

12 months on and Liverpool’s squad is again buckling. Though this time it is under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic and looming AFCON absences, as well as injuries.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will play for Egypt and Senegal respectively next month. That could leave the Reds short of firepower, especially with their attacking midfield options depleted at present. Naby Keita will also travel to Cameroon to play for Guinea.

As such, the Athletic’s Liverpool expert, James Pearce, was asked about a surprise return for Coutinho in a Q&A.

Barcelona are well documented in their desire to shift the former Liverpool favourite who left under a cloud in 2018. The Brazilian’s career has stalled in Spain and Barca’s dire financial situation has left them desperate to find a buyer.

Initial Coutinho exit still stings – Pearce

A loan exit could be of benefit to Liverpool with Coutinho providing cover in the attacking areas through AFCON. Removing him from Barcelona’s books – even for just six months – would aid the Spanish giant’s finances.

However, Pearce insists Klopp and Liverpool have moved on, stating: “I can’t see it.

“Even if Barcelona were willing to sanction it, the loan fee and the wages would be massive. Plus the way Coutinho secured that move away from Anfield in January 2018 left a sour taste.

Coutinho linked with Premier League move

Coutinho linked with Premier League move

Barcelona's Coutinho has been linked with Newcastle, Everton and Spurs.

“Liverpool have flourished and been very successful without him. Their style has evolved. They don’t need Coutinho.

“In fact, barring an injury crisis or a change of heart, I’m not expecting Liverpool to add anyone to their squad during the January window. Klopp seems happy with what he’s got and senior club sources have indicated that incomings are unlikely.”

A second return of a former Red has been speculated in the form of Georginio Wijnaldum. Once again proving the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, Wijnaldum’s spell with PSG so far has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle have been touted as credible landing spots if Wijnaldum returned to England on loan. But Pearce believes Klopp can no longer offer what Wijnaldum would demand.

Georginio Wijnaldum PSG v Lille, October 2021

“With the injury situation improving and players returning shortly after positive COVID tests, I’m not concerned about a lack of midfield options.

“Klopp has Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner as back-up to Thiago, Fabinho and Henderson.

“I’d be amazed if PSG loaned out Wijnaldum in January. Even if they did, I can’t see Liverpool bringing him back.

“If he did leave Paris he would want to be a guaranteed starter somewhere and I don’t see Klopp being able to offer him that assurance.”

Klopp won’t stand in third transfer’s way

One deal that Pearce does expect to cross the line regards Nat Phillips.

The centre-back is now fifth-choice following Ibrahima Konate’s summer arrival. As such, talk of a permanent exit – most likely to West Ham – has ramped up.

“I’m expecting Phillips to leave,” added Pearce.

“Liverpool have placed a £15 million price tag on him. He wants to play more regularly and Klopp won’t stand in his way if a suitable bid comes in.

“There’s already been plenty of interest from Premier League clubs.”

TEAMtalk’s Quiz of the Season: 20 rock-hard questions on every Premier League club