Liverpool news: Graeme Souness pinpoints problem area and urges Klopp to replace ‘unreliable’ man in January

Liverpool defenders Andy Robertson, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk

Graeme Souness believes Joel Matip will struggle to remain fit for the entire season and is concerned about the make-up of the Liverpool midfield.

The Reds are hoping to bounce back from an underwhelming season in which they failed to qualify for the Champions League. A fifth-placed finish sees them in the Europa League but it is not where a club of Liverpool’s standing wants to be. They have made a strong start to the current campaign, with three wins a draw meaning they sat third heading into the international break.

But it remains to be seen if the Merseysiders can sustain a challenge for 38 games.

Summer recruitment saw Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo arrive.

There was no addition to the club’s defensive ranks. Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk remain Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice central defensive partnership.

Matip will act as back-up although he has already started two top-flight games this term.

Souness has his doubts as to whether the former Cameroon international will be able to make a contribution throughout the campaign.

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And he also took aim at a key area of the pitch which, he believes, still needs to be worked on.

“I think the defence is more than good enough, the goalkeeper is more than good enough, but the blend in the midfield is not quite right,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“I’d like to see them get another central defender, Matip can’t keep himself fit for a long, hard Premier League year.”

Matip no longer a reliable starter

Matip has been at Anfield since the summer of 2016 when he joined on a free transfer after his Schalke contract expired.

When fit, he has proved to be an excellent signing, making 189 appearances in all competitions.

However, it could have been many more but for a woeful run of luck with injuries.

The 2021-22 season saw the African make 31 Premier League starts among 43 appearances in all competitions.

But that has been the exception, with nine league appearances in 2019-20 and 10 the following campaign.

The 32-year-old was seen 14 times last season and has enjoyed some playing time this time around.

But it remains to be seen how much game time he will receive when the big two are available.

Souness clearly feels he has served his purpose at the club and should be moved on, probably in the winter window.

But Klopp will not do that unless he is able to sign another quality centre-half. There were reports that the boss was looking to sell him during the summer.

Former Liverpool defender and pundit Jamie Carragher urged the German tactician to ‘move him on’ back in June.

He remained on Merseyside and has helped the team early in 2023-24.

But it does seem likely that this will be his final season at Liverpool with his contract due to expire next summer.

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