A couple of weeks ago, things looked bleak at Liverpool. The goals stopped flowing; the wins stopped coming, and even the Anfield record could no longer be called upon as a positive- toppled by Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
Yet, fast-forward a week, and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are third having enjoyed two statement-making wins in the capital. Scintillating football was back; the tune of Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal band echoed around London as the Reds toppled both Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in ruthless fashion.
But, in all the positives, came one negative blow with Joel Matip suffering a season-ending injury– leaving the Reds with zero senior central defenders available. It has been the narrative of a disruptive Liverpool season with midfielders forced to become auxiliary centre-backs, leaving Liverpool forced to act on deadline day.
Matip Injury Reiterates Importance of Liverpool Transfers
Deadline Day Deals: Potential Difference-Makers for Liverpool
Before the Matip injury, the club seemed prepared to cope without turning to the transfer market. Yet, as deadline day approached, and Liverpool set for half a season without a single centre-back, the club had no choice but to act.
So in came the calvary; in came Ozan Kabak, and in came Ben Davies. In the space of a week, Liverpool had gone from facing the possibility of zero centre-backs to having two arrive simultaneously.
You could say defenders are like buses. You wait all day for one, then two arrive at the same time.
Liverpool, like most of the time, were smart in their negotiations. Earlier in the week, Jurgen Klopp played down the Matip injury- claiming that it wasn’t as serious as first thought.
Once the transfers were complete, the German took to the press conference to reveal that the defender had, in fact, suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
The club knew that, if they went into negotiations with clubs knowing they were desperate for a central defender, the price would rise for whoever they were negotiating for.
Instead of looking desperate, Liverpool went into negotiations with others believing they were just after temporary cover, and Joel Matip would be back in a couple of weeks. With that in mind, the often expert negotiator, Michael Edwards, walked into talks before coming out with not one, but two central defenders for a bargain price.
Kabak signed on loan until the end of the season with the option to buy of £18 million. Davies signed for a fee that could rise to £2 million. A week ago, a season-ending injury for Matip could have seen Liverpool’s season derailed. One busy deadline day later, and panic has failed to ensue due to the business done.
Fabinho Likely to Be Used in Big Games
Of course, Matip’s injury is not ideal, and it will still deal Liverpool a damaging blow. In a perfect world, Matip stays fit and partners either Kabak or Davies; Fabinho moves back into midfield, and Liverpool charge towards the title, but nothing can be perfect.
So, as it stands, Fabinho- particularly in the big games- will likely keep his place at the heart of defence next to most likely Kabak. Or, in Jurgen Klopp’s mind, why fix something when it is not broken?
Jordan Henderson has been excellent when asked to play centre-back against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. So, for that reason, with Manchester City coming up, Klopp could look towards experience once more by utilising the leadership of his captain in that position next to Fabinho.
It’s in the so-called lesser games, such as the one against Brighton, when Henderson or Fabinho will be able to crucially influence the game in midfield once more.
Liverpool have sorely lacked Fabinho’s ability in midfield to put out fires before they can show signs of becoming deadly flames. They have missed his world-class ability to break up attacks before expertly recycling the ball.
Now, with Kabak and Davies in, Jurgen Klopp can utilise the Brazilian in his best position; something that could prove to be the difference-maker for the Reds.
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