Neil Jones has urged Liverpool not to leave themselves short on defenders by failing to bring one in before the transfer window, believing that not doing so would be ‘unforgivable’ in the context of recent years.
With Virgil van Dijk facing a suspension and Ibrahima Konate injured, Jurgen Klopp’s squad looks worryingly short on centre-back options in particular, hence speculation over a possible move for the likes of Arthur Theate in the lead-up to Friday’s deadline.
It’s led to fears of a defensive shortage similar to that which scuppered the Reds’ 2020/21 season, and Jones is imploring the club not to make the same mistake again this time around, especially after a strong start to the campaign buoyed by Sunday’s dramatic win at Newcastle.
Speaking exclusively to Empire of the Kop’s Substack, the journalist said: “It’s not like the midfield situation where you’ve got a clear idea of who they’re after or who they’ve looked at. But they have to find someone.
“I just can’t believe that they would do it again after doing it last season with the midfield, after doing it in 2020 with the defence when they left themselves one short; it would be unforgivable for Liverpool to do it again.
“It would just be undermining all the good that’s going on in the club and there is a lot of good going on. They’ve done really well with Szoboszlai, they’ve done really well with Mac Allister. We’ll see what comes of Wataru Endo.
“They’ve developed players like Curtis Jones into first-team players. There’s Harvey Elliott, Stefan Bajcetic… don’t undermine that by sitting on your hands and making out that you can’t improve the squad – you can improve the squad. It’s quite clear.”
Jones is right – Liverpool need to pounce upon the feel-good factor from the Newcastle result and not leave themselves short for what’ll be an intense season with a regular diet of Thursday-Sunday scheduling due to their Europa League participation.
The setbacks to Van Dijk and Konate leave Joel Matip and Joe Gomez as our only senior centre-back options for the Aston Villa game this coming weekend (Nat Phillips has been virtually discarded given his lack of participation in the squad), and even those have been the subject of exit speculation in recent days.
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We saw in 2020/21 how our hopes of retaining the Premier League title collapsed due to a chronic sparsity of available defenders, and how stuck we were for midfield depth last term when deadline day loan signing Arthur Melo spent virtually his entire time at Anfield ruled out through injury.
The primary focus has understandably been on the middle of the park this summer after so many exits since the end of last term, but the Liverpool hierarchy can’t afford to take a chance on Klopp’s centre-back depth.
The precedents are there as warnings, so let’s hope the Anfield hierarchy heed those and get another central defender through the door while they still have the opportunity to do so.