Jurgen Klopp is reportedly set to ask the Liverpool board to bring forward his plans to sign Dayot Upamecano to January in the wake of the injury sustained by Virgil van Dijk.
The talismanic Liverpool defender has torn his ACL and now faces several months on the sidelines.
It comes as another blow to Liverpool, who are already without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker due to injury. Alisson and Van Dijk are widely regarded as the two signings that turned Liverpool into title winners.
Until Saturday, Van Dijk had an near-faultless injury record while at Liverpool. The towering Dutchman has started the last 94 Premier League matches. He is a hugely influential figure in their defence and dressing room. A captain in everything but name.
The initial prognosis had suggested Van Dijk could return before the end of the season. However, a bleak claim on Thursday suggested it may be the 2021/22 season before the Dutchman takes the field for Liverpool again.
Having allowed Dejan Lovren to also depart in the summer window, Liverpool suddenly look short at the back.
They are using Fabinho as cover in the meantime; the Brazilian explaining the one area Klopp wants him to improve.
It’s claimed signing a new centre-half was always in Klopp’s thinking. However, the initial plan was to make their move in summer 2021, with their budget worked out accordingly.
However, Ian McGarry claims Klopp has now asked the Liverpool board to bring forward that plan to January in light of Van Dijk’s setback.
Furthermore, the transfer expert claims Klopp has firmly identified RB Leipzig’s Upamecano as his No 1 target.
Speaking on The Transfer Window podcast, McGarry has explained why he expects movement in January.
“What we have learned from our sources here at Transfer Window HQ is that Dayot Upamecano is Liverpool’s first choice in terms of a new centre-half to buy.
“He was the defender who Jurgen Klopp identified way before this summer’s window. He’s been identified as someone who should be coming into Anfield to replace Dejan Lovren. He, as we know, left in the summer.
“Interestingly, and also, I’m sure, ironic, for the German head coach [is] that he was not given the player he wanted [in the summer transfer window].
“Indeed, he was not given a centre half at all. Now he finds himself without one of the best centre-backs in world football, probably for the rest of the season.”
Upamecano has also been linked with Manchester United and has a £54m release clause due to kick in next summer.
Ornstein on Liverpool transfer plans
The Athletic’s David Ornstein, meanwhile, claims Liverpool are yet to decide on a signing – but does expect movement in January.
“The big question is how Liverpool react, with many eyes already on the January transfer window. As far as I know, that level of conversation is yet to take place internally,” Ornstein said.
“They won’t make a snap call on the matter. They’re not ruling out a January signing but as things stand I don’t sense it’s likely. January is always a tricky market: prices are high; availability low.
“We don’t know what finances Liverpool would have at their disposal. A player coming in would need time to adapt. They also wouldn’t just have to be at Liverpool’s level, they need to be an improvement on what the club already have.
“Liverpool aren’t normally a chequebook club in this case. They don’t tend to throw money at these sorts of problems. Yes, they signed Van Dijk himself and Alisson for big money, but we’d all agree that they were needed and it was money extremely well spent.
“From what I hear, Jurgen Klopp would prefer to rely on internal resources in this case.”