According to James Pearce and Simon Hughes for the Athletic (subscription required), the Liverpool squad and coaching staff are surprised that the club haven’t recruited a centre-back this month.
Whilst the Liverpool players and Jurgen Klopp’s coaching staff are well aware that Virgil van Dijk is irreplaceable, the decision to not bolster at the heart of the defence given Joe Gomez’s long-term injury and Joel Matip’s injury-proneness has been met with surprise.
Gomez unfortunately suffered a serious knee injury soon after Van Dijk’s, whilst the other man that makes up Liverpool’s top three centre-back options in Matip has missed considerable action this term.
The Athletic reiterate that the Reds were already in the market for a new centre-back before injuries struck as Dejan Lovren was not replaced following his sale to Zenit in the summer.
With no Lovren as a senior fourth-choice centre-back, when Van Dijk and Gomez went down, the likes of academy graduates Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips were prematurely thrust into first-team roles.
When Klopp has decided against calling on either of the youngsters, Jordan Henderson has been tasked with partnering the already deputising Fabinho in central defence.
The Reds are in the midst of one of their most troubled spells since they reestablished themselves as a quality side in the 17/18 season, they’ve failed to win any of their last five Premier League games.
Williams struggled in the FA Cup ties against Aston Villa and Manchester United as well – being left to look unconvincing for goals conceded in both games.
Considering that Liverpool stormed to the Premier League title when rivals Manchester City suffered defensively last season, it’s all the more surprising that they haven’t strengthened.
Now, Klopp’s men sit fifth in the Premier League table, seven points off City in first and six points off heated foes Manchester United in second.