Liverpool have had an interesting season so far. They started off their campaign with a dramatic 4-3 win against newly-promoted Leeds United. They have had a pretty challenging set of fixtures facing teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City already and have not conceded a defeat against these giants. The only defeat they have suffered this campaign is an embarrassing 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa. Despite having most of their starting lineup except their keeper who was Adrian at that point of time, they still managed to concede 7 goals against Villa.
One major problem Liverpool are currently facing is injuries. They have had a whopping 18 players sidelined either due to COVID-19 or injury. On top of that, the players that have been injured are first-team quality and had a pivotal role in Liverpool winning their first Premier League title. It all started off with Virgil Van Dijk being injured in the Merseyside derby as a result of a controversial tackle by Everton keeper, Jordan Pickford rupturing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament and ruling him out for the rest of the campaign. In the very same game, the Reds’ new signing Thiago had also sustained an injury to the knee as a result of a rash tackle by Everton player, Richarlison. Since then, there has been a never-ending list of injuries for the Reds. Fabinho who was supposed to be Virgil Van Dijk’s temporary replacement at centre-back had suffered a pulled hamstring in their UEFA Champions League Fixture against FC Midtjylland. The last fixture before the international break was their clash against Manchester City in which they managed to pull off a draw, but unfortunately their first team full-back Trent Alexander Arnold endured a calf injury which reports claim will keep him out of the squad for a month. FIFA’s jam-packed schedule during this pandemic was not helpful to Jurgen Klopp’s team as their other starter centre back Joe Gomez had suffered a knee injury which has supposedly also ruled him out for the rest of the season. To add to this list of injuries, Andy Robertson suffered a hamstring injury whilst playing for his nation, Scotland. Jordan Henderson has also been injured during the international break, Rhys Williams, another centre back had been sent back from the England Under 21 squad with a stiff hip and Liverpool’s undoubtedly best player Mohammad Salah has tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of attending his brother’s wedding.
Despite all this, there is some good news for the Liverpool fans as Fabinho and Thiago have recovered from their previously sustained injuries. Additionally, the January transfer window is not too far away. Liverpool can also rely on the players already available in their squad when it comes to defensive and attacking options. However, we still believe it is necessary for The Reds to buy another centre back to help them become real contenders for the 20/21 season. Here are the top 10 most likely players to defend Liverpool’s title.
1. Kalidou Koulibaly (CB)
Koulibaly is possibly one of the best replacements for Van Dijk. Both are similar as they are ball-playing defenders, and Koulibaly can easily fit into Jurgen Klopp’s side. His physicality and outstanding defensive awareness make him a really good choice to bolster Liverpool's defence when the transfer window opens.
2. Dayot Upamecano (CB)
Upamecano has garnered interest from the top teams in Europe, with one of them being Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Upamecano’s huge frame and height make him a formidable figure and he has been gifted with an amazing reaction time and blistering pace for a defender. According to reputable sources, Upamecano apparently has a release clause of $48 million which will kick in next summer but reports state that Upamecano can be sold if the release clause is met. That said, Upamecano, if purchased by Liverpool, can potentially help them in not only domestic success but European as well. His young age also means that he is a player who is not retiring anytime soon.
3. Konstantinos Tsimikas (LB)
The Greek left-back who transferred from Olympiacos at the start of this season hasn’t yet played for Liverpool but offers valuable cover for the left-back position considering Robertson also had a strained hamstring. However, Robertson seems to be fully recovered as he returned to play in Scotland’s Nations League clash against Israel.
4. Fabinho (CDM)
The player who Liverpool will want to recover as quickly as possible is probably Fabinho. The defensive midfielder stepped up as a makeshift centre back when Joe Gomez was initially injured in a Premier League match in the warm-up, and also proved more than adequate when he partnered Joe Gomez later when Van Dijk was ruled out. His versatility allows Liverpool to play him as a centre back and a CDM, depending on what they need.
5. Rhys Williams (CB)
Rhys Williams has burst onto the scene out of nowhere and has already played 3 Champions League games. His tall height has already drawn comparisons between him and Van Dijk. Williams is the perfect temporary replacement for Van Dijk, however, he is largely inexperienced, and only time will tell if he is up to the task.
6. James Milner (CM)
Liverpool can use James Milner to plug the gaps in midfield due to Thiago’s injury when required. He can also help cover for the lack of a backup right-back for Trent-Alexander Arnold. He has proved himself and his versatility has been crucial for Liverpool multiple times in the past. In a sense, he has become a Liverpool legend, so LFC can certainly look to him for support in these trying times.
7. Thiago (CM)
Although Liverpool brought in Thiago from Bayern Munich in the transfer window, his debut season has hit a sort of pause due to Richarlison’s diving attempt in the Merseyside derby which earned him a red card and gave Thiago a knee injury. However, Klopp has said that he is “getting closer” to full fitness, and perhaps he can return within a few fixtures to help bolster Liverpool’s midfield, which is especially fragile with Henderson also being injured right now. In the games he did play, he found a way past defenders with ease and made penetrating passes to create chances consistently.
8. Diogo Jota (LW)
Diogo Jota has wasted no time in making his presence felt at Liverpool. He has scored 7 goals across the EPL and the UCL, and his attacking style has perhaps even catapulted him ahead of Firmino in the attacker’s list. His transfer move from Wolves this year is proving more than crucial. Salah’s absence is compensated by Jota who has replaced him as the right-winger, and he will certainly be looking to help Liverpool stay on track to defend their title.
9. Xherdan Shaqiri (RW)
While Shaqiri hasn’t been as crucial to Liverpool as Jota has, he does provide valuable cover. He is a more than decent right-wing option and can be used in games where Jota or Firmino are rested. Thus he adds valuable depth to the Liverpool squad, which is especially important considering how many injuries they have had.
10. Daniel Subasic (GK)
With Alisson being injured from time to time, Adrian has failed to prove his worth. He has already committed many mistakes in big matches, one of them being Liverpool’s game against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 stage of their 2019/2020 campaign, and another being their more recent 7-2 embarrassment at Villa Park. Daniel Subasic is a highly underrated keeper who is currently a free agent. Subasic has helped his previous side AS Monaco reach Ligue 1 titles and played a significant role in Monaco’s memorable 16/17 UCL campaign. On top of that, he helped his nation reach the 2018 World Cup Final. Subasic is a highly experienced keeper and is the perfect back up keeper to Alisson Becker.