Dejan Lovren is reportedly heading to Zenit St Petersburg in an £11m transfer. Jurgen Klopp has three options to replace the Croatian.
Numerous reports claim that Lovren is close to Zenit in an £11m transfer. It would bring a six-year Anfield career to an end and leave Klopp with some decisions to make.
We believe there are three ways to go about it.
Splashing the cash
Klopp could spend some money to bring in a replacement. It’s not straightforward, though. For one, Liverpool just might not feel comfortable spending money in the current climate.
But the Liverpool boss recently pointed out the importance of having four senior centre-halves. With Lovren leaving, the Reds would only have three, which suggests a transfer could happen. Liverpool would also have an extra £11m in the back, of course.
How do you sign a fourth-choice, though? Do you just bring in a squad player? Or do you bring in genuine competition for the current crop?
And there’re two ways to do that, too. You could sign a player like Ben White, one for the future who doesn’t need to play every week right now. Sky Sports linked Liverpool with White back in January.
Reports in Italy suggest they might go another way, though. Gazzetta Dello Sport linked Liverpool with Kalidou Koulibaly, suggesting the Reds want to bring in a world-class player to compete.
Faith in youth
Liverpool could simply promote a youngster to be fourth-choice, though. It would cost far less, of course, but without the reliability of an experienced defender.
Both Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg look like potential stars but they’ll need first-team football to get there. Still, both are teenagers – there’s no rush.
But Lovren leaving would create a spot in the first-team for one of the kids. If Klopp had faith in them, he could use them in that fourth spot and, hopefully, give them the experience to grow quickly.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip do have suspect injury records, however. With that in mind, having a teenager as fourth-choice is a big risk as they may end up playing important games.
It’ll all come down to just how good Klopp thinks the kids are.
We saw this one against Manchester City. After Gomez struggled in the first half, Klopp moved Fabinho to centre-half and brought on a midfielder. Things did tighten up a bit for the second half, too.
And if Klopp does trust Fabinho there, perhaps he doesn’t need anyone? Instead, Fabinho could cover the fourth-choice role and Klopp simply uses his midfielders to make up the numbers.
He’s got such a great selection of players, after all, especially with Curtis Jones coming through. Fabinho could drop back and Jordan Henderson or Gini Wijnaldum could take the holding role. Then one of Jones, James Milner, Naby Keita or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can come into midfield.
This is the cheapest and most risk-free option – if Klopp fully trusts Fabinho there. We called it a luxury in his squad and it may well become a go-to with Lovren’s departure.