Jamie Redknapp has compared Liverpool’s struggles this season with Manchester City’s difficulties in coming to terms with the injury to Aymeric Laporte last year.
Pep Guardiola’s side were deemed to have suffered greatly at the loss of the 26-year-old, with the Reds going on to secure their first title in 30 years.
“Losing Virgil van Dijk – people don’t want to hear it. ‘Losing Van Dijk’ it can’t be that easy [to explain Liverpool’s problems],” the former Red told the Pitch to Post podcast. “But pre-Van Dijk for Liverpool was where they are now. Not a lot different. Win games, great. Lose games. Van Dijk came in and all of a sudden they looked like a proper team.”
Given that the club has lost every single senior defender available (beyond our deadline day signings), however, it’s hard to compare both situations.
Jurgen Klopp has had to navigate a title defence without his starting centre-half pairing, pulling key midfielders into the back four to make up for the losses.
“One player can make that much of a difference. Look at Ruben Dias at Man City. They’re not playing any better than they were last season, Man City,” Redknapp added. “Dias-Laporte, Dias-Stones and all of a sudden it’s like ‘wow, they can win anything they want’. But it isn’t that much different in terms of personnel going forward.”
One might argue that Liverpool’s season may have very well survived with their remaining centre-back options available, but circumstances have robbed the club of any consistency at the back.
Nonetheless, the Sky Sports pundit is on the money to suggest that it’ll be a very different situation next term with our starting defensive duo back in action.