Liverpool are going very strong in the Premier League this season. They currently sit in the second position in the league table and are genuine title contenders.
Each player in their squad has made a contribution to their run, with the new signings Sadio Mane and Joel Matip enjoying a great season, while playmaker Philippe Coutinho and captain Jordan Henderson have been brilliant as well.
But a recent injury to the Brazilian and Sadio Mane’s imminent departure to participate in the AFCON in January will be a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp and his team.
A title is won on the strength of the team’s squad. There will always come a time when one of your key players will face time out due to injuries or suspensions and those are the times you rely on your bench strength to get you through. Given how well the Reds are playing currently, it is natural to think there is no improvement needed in the squad. But if Liverpool are serious about their title challenge, shoring up the squad isn’t a bad idea at all.
With that in mind let’s take a look at three key areas that Klopp will need to strengthen in the January transfer window:
Full-backs (Right and Left)
James Milner has been an absolute revelation at left-back this season for Liverpool. Stepping in for an error-prone Alberto Moreno, the former Manchester City player has looked at home in a totally unfamiliar position and is owning it on the left-side of the defence.
But with a not so reliable Alberto Moreno as the only other option available for Jürgen Klopp, it wouldn’t hurt if the German brought in a more solid and reliable cover for Milner.
The situation is quite similar on the right-side of the defence too. There is no suitable cover for Nathaniel Clyne at the right-back position except for a young Connor Randall. While Emre Can has shown in the past that he can fill in at right-back if needed, Liverpool would be served much better with a proven defender acting as Clyne’s back-up.
Sadio Mane is the only out and out winger in this Liverpool squad. And with him going to play for his country in the Africa Cup of Nations in January, there is a good chance he might miss up to 7 games maximum. Klopp admitted to the fact that he doesn’t have many such options available at his disposal.
In an interview, he said “It’s not about how many strikers. Three strikers is enough, I think, but when Sadio is away we will be without a winger. We do not have many wingers, I would say. Roberto Firmino could play as a kind of a winger which would then give us just two strikers. That’s how it is.”
And he is spot on with that. Firmino, while able to fill in on the flanks, is not a natural wide player. He will not offer the same threats as Mane does on the right-flank. Liverpool do have some exciting young talents coming through the youth ranks, but an investment in a winger in January could go a long way in helping their title bid.
Phillipe Coutinho has been the creative hub for Liverpool this term. He makes things happen on a regular basis and has been involved in 31% of Liverpool’s goals this season. So, his injury comes at a very bad time for the club. With the Brazilian ruled out for a minimum of 6 weeks, the timing overlaps with Mane’s AFCON involvement, depriving Klopp the services of two of his best players.
So, it might be prudent to look at a creative attacking midfielder, especially with Adam Lallana also struggling with injuries. Someone who can offer the Reds a spark going forward in the absence of the Brazilian and can also score goals for the team.