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Liverpool’s defensive frailty was badly exposed last season, and yet, Jurgen Klopp – the charismatic Liverpool boss, successfully clinched a top-four finish and guided the Reds to qualify for the prestigious 2017-18 UEFA Champions League competition. However, their failure to strengthen the back-line is troubling the Merseysiders on a regular basis and Klopp must look to rectify his mistake of being unable to find a suitable alternative to Virgil Van Dijk. The German manager failed to bring him to Anfield over the summer as Southampton, his current employers, kept hold of the Dutchman despite his transfer request.
The Reds are now struggling to make it to the top-four, and their backline is quite shallow, due to which they are unable to hold onto a lead and clinch wins in close encounters. Dejan Lovren has been erroneous and a sporadic Ragnar Klavan remains the only alternative to partner Joel Matip in central defence. Liverpool must not repeat the same mistake twice and should dive into the transfer market when it reopens in January.
Klopp’s men have often conceded from set-pieces and their aerial weakness continues to be brutally exposed. Matip, thus, needs someone who would dominate in the air and also forge a steady defensive partnership for the years to come.
Here are three such players who can bring both aerial and physical stability to help the Reds overcome their long-standing defensive concerns.
The Dutchman will be ever-present in Liverpool’s target list until a move finally occurs or it completely breaks down in the coming days. Van Dijk was forced to stay put at St. Mary’s in the summer but as the January window comes closer, Mauricio Pellegrino has expressed uncertainty regarding the future of his prized asset.
Standing at a little over 6 feet, Van Dijk is not only good in the air but also loves to constitute moves from the back with his great vision and a supreme sense of passing. The 26-year-old Netherlands international holds all the traits of a top-notch centre-back and deserves a bigger club at this point in his career.
The Senegalese international has been in stupendous form for Serie A side Napoli, who are currently on top of the league table ahead of Juventus. The 26-year-old defender has been linked to Liverpool previously and he has a £70million buy-out clause. Like Van Dijk, Koulibaly is also over 6 feet tall and his aerial dominance along with other defensive attributes make him a worthy transfer target.
Although it could be difficult to convince the Serie A leaders to sell their best defender half-way through the season, a gigantic transfer fee might still lure the Italian heavyweights to do business in the winter transfer window.
Tah seems like a more realistic option for the Reds. The 21-year-old Germany international is termed as one of the best youngsters in his country and is consistently delivering impressive performances for Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen.
However, he is expected to complete a switch to a greater European outfit in the near future. Tah is strong in the air, making him a viable candidate for Liverpool to consider. Moreover, Klopp’s influence back in his homeland might play a crucial role in convincing the youngster to offer his trade to the Merseyside club.