What do you buy the man who has it all? While others have clear and obvious gaps in their squads which need filling, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool start the New Year at the top of the Premier League table after a peerless 2018 in the transfer market.
The summer saw an outlay of some £168million on four players, with Alisson finally solving the problem goalkeeper position. Xherdan Shaqiri is proving a snip at £13m from relegated Stoke City and Fabinho, a surprise capture from Monaco, is starting to find his feet. Only Naby Keita still needs to settle, despite glimpses of his great promise.
It was the business of this time last year that has proved truly transformative, however. The sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona last January could have crippled Liverpool. Instead, Klopp’s side were galvanised by the £75m arrival of Virgil van Dijk, who has not just lived up to but exceeded great expectations.
Supporters hoping for similarly glamorous business this January may be disappointed. There are no areas of Klopp’s squad that require urgent work and there is now depth where there was once a dearth of options.
Klopp himself has ruled out any incoming January business unless he loses players to injury. “If something dramatically changes, we will need to have a look but if nothing happens, then we will not do anything,” he has said.
Christian Pulisic has long been linked with Anfield and appears to be nearing the exit door at Borussia Dortmund but a January move is not on the cards. Chelsea have, in any case, emerged as the front-runners for Pulisic’s signature.
Liverpool also distanced themselves from reports regarding a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot back in September and, despite such links persisting, nothing has changed on that front.
More likely – but still remote – is a defensive signing. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are currently sidelined and further casualties in central defence could force Klopp’s hand. An injury to Van Dijk would be particularly damaging.
Otherwise, the bulk of any business is likely to be restricted to outgoings. There is a second-string of players at Anfield that, while providing depth for the first team, are established and experienced enough to want regular minutes elsewhere.
Take, for example, the defence. Two seasons ago, Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Matip and Alberto Moreno made 154 appearances between them. All five are still at the club but do not start when everyone is fully fit.
Clyne has attracted interest from Cardiff City and could join Neil Warnock’s side on loan until the end of the season. Moreno’s contract expires this summer and, following his public criticism of Klopp, renewed terms appear unlikely. Liverpool could decide to cash in.
Another likely loan exit is Dominic Solanke, who made 27 appearances last season but is yet to play a minute this term and has only been named on the substitutes’ bench once, for an EFL Cup tie.
Crystal Palace, Brighton, Fulham, Huddersfield and Rangers are all interested in taking the 21-year-old from Anfield on a temporary basis.
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