Liverpool are racing against the clock to sign a defender before Monday’s deadline with Jurgen Klopp claiming teams “want crazy money”.
The champions, according to Klopp, have been unlucky with a spate of injuries which have decimated Klopp’s rearguard.
The failure to replace Dejan Lovren was seen as a mistake by some, but still Klopp’s injury list has been horrendous.
The latest to join the walking wounded at Anfield are Fabinho and Joel Matip. The Brazilian never made the start against Tottenham after picking up a muscle injury, while Matip was replaced at half-time in the 3-1 win.
With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez already ruled out long-term, Klopp’s options have narrowed. Jordan Henderson has filled in admirably but Klopp has admitted they are looking for a “solution” from outside.
There appears to have been a change in stance from the club. Previously Klopp has distanced himself from talk of signings.
But on Friday he said: “My thoughts didn’t change, my words might have.
“It’s the same situation as before. We work on this, we don’t always have training and press conferences. If we don’t sleep, we work. That’s what we did all the time. We will see. It’s about a solution, and that’s what we are working on.”
Michael Edwards has been studying a target list this month, but Klopp says everyone is aware of their need.
“You know the situation with centre-halves out there,” said Klopp. “You know the clubs where the centre-halves are playing. You know the clubs where they are obviously interesting because everyone is talking about them. Tell me if one of these clubs needs the money and needs to sell a player? And if they need money then they want crazy money.
“As a football fan you can sit at home and think, ‘They have to do something’. But that’s not how it works.”
As soon as Klopp had uttered those words on Friday at his Kirkby press conference, players were linked with the club.
The Telegraph reports that “most of them immediately shot down by the club”.
The paper also claims one name – Arsenal’s German centre-back Shkodran Mustafi – “was not so instantly dismissed”.
Mustafi, who has made over 100 Premier League appearances, has only played nine times in all competitions for Mikel Arteta’s men this season.
According to Football London, Arsenal are in talks with Mustafi over terminating his contract early. Pundit Jermaine Jenas thinks Mustafi could be the answer for Liverpool.
The report adds that Arteta wants the Germany international gone to free up space for new signings.
The player’s contract was due to expire in June anyway. With that in mind, it would not be a big financial loss for the Gunners.
And he may well fit the bill for Klopp as a short-term fix. Klopp is thought to prefer a player who will be a long-term prospect but his hands could be tied.
“We see the situation, ” said Klopp. “We lost probably two of the best centre-halves in the whole market in a period of six or seven weeks. For the whole season. That’s massive. And then the winter transfer market opens and everyone says, ‘Now you can do something’.
“We try. We see the situation. We don’t close our eyes.”
Cost or quality?
Asked about whether he was concerned more about cost or quality Klopp added: “Can you separate these two things?
“I am not sure there is an £80million centre-back available at the moment and a club thinks, ‘We can get £80m for him so we will sell him’.
“I don’t think that’s the case. Actually, pretty much I know. This calibre of player the teams would not sell them now. It is both. We need to find the right player and one which suits our financial situation, that’s clear as well.”
Henderson is likely to line-up in the back four against West Ham with the inexperienced Nat Phillips or Rhys Williams alongside him.
That will be their 15th such partnership central defensive partnership this season
“To play your best season you need to be lucky. You need luck with injuries,” said Klopp. “For us the situation is like this. We are not lucky in these moments but still everyone expects us to play our best season. That’s ok, but we also have to find the solution to win the next football game and make the season as special as possible.”