Liverpool were handed a setback of catastrophic proportions when Jordan Pickford went lunging into a challenge with Virgil van Dijk in the 237th Merseyside derby.
For supporters who have seen what the Dutchman offers the Reds on a weekly basis for his team, this was a blow that could have huge ramifications to Liverpool’s early title aspirations.
When you look deeper, there will not be a more significant injury setback all season across Europe.
Van Dijk will likely miss the remainder of the season after Liverpool’s official website confirmed that an ACL injury followed the collision between the Reds defender and Everton goalkeeper.
Of course, Liverpool will already be drawing up viable candidates to fill the defensive void once the transfer window opens up again in January. Jamie Carragher teased last night that Conor Coady could be the perfect defensive solution for Jurgen Klopp.
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It certainly is a signing that would be welcomed by Kopites and there are three very big reasons why Coady could be a perfect solution for Liverpool in the new year.
Coady is a well known Liverpool fan having grown up in the city and come through the academy ranks at Kirkby before leaving for Huddersfield in 2014.
He clocked up just two appearances for the first-team despite captaining the Reds across several age groups at youth level.
It would certainly be interesting to see if Coady’s loyalties to his current club Wolves were tested if a serious interest from Liverpool were to materialise in January.
The main difficulty for Liverpool would be that the England international’s humility and professionalism indicate that it will be difficult to sway him away from Molineux.
Coady recognises how significant Wolves have been to propelling his career to such enormous heights, and even the lure of returning to Anfield may not be enough for him to consider abandoning the club that gave him his big break in the professional game.
Similarly to Van Dijk, Coady is an ever-present and durable figure for his club-side. In-fact, the Wolves club-captain is the only outfield player in England over the past two seasons to have clocked up more minutes than the Dutchman.
Coady, 27, hasn’t missed a second of Premier League action since Wolves were promoted from the Championship in 2018 clocking up 7840 minutes of competitive action in the English top-flight.
This is a quality that Liverpool will prize higher than any other especially given the previous injury woes to both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez in recent years.
If Liverpool are to invest heavily in a viable Van Dijk alternative they need a player who is a sure bet to remain fit on a weekly basis. It is impossible to find a more durable Premier League option than Coady.
Leadership qualities and style of play
Van Dijk offered Liverpool just as much off-the-ball as he did on it. If the Reds are to replace such a gargantuan voice in the dressing room then they will hope that his leadership qualities are addressed to a similar degree.
Again, it would be difficult for Liverpool to find a more naturally suited leader than Coady. The former Reds academy graduate is one of the most vocal players in the Premier League and has become a huge voice for both his club and country.
Also, his positioning allows him to read the game as well as any defender in the English top-flight. Coady is the central figure in a three-man defensive system and is the prime organiser to ensure that his team are well-positioned and appropriately set-up to contain whatever threat is thrown towards them.
This was particularly evident during Wolves’ most recent outing against Leeds United last night which saw Coady deliver a defensive masterclass for his team.
Nuno Espirito Santos’ side emerged from Elland Road with a vital 1-0 victory and it was Wolves’ defensive qualities that proved key in inspiring their best start to a top-flight season in over 40 years.
Coady was integral for his team and his outstanding defensive qualities showed. He made one tackle, one interception, two clearences and a crucial block according to WhoScored as Wolves moved within four points of top spot.
Other than Van Dijk, Coady is also amongst the best players in the league in terms of his passing ability. He was in the top-10 central defenders for completed passes in each of the past two seasons.
Despite having taken the long route to reach the top, Coady has proven he is the real deal and is more than worthy of interest from the Premier League champions. In terms of like-for-like immediate replacements to Van Dijk, it would be hard for Liverpool to find better. The difficulty for Klopp remains convincing a player as loyal and committed to the cause at his current club to abandon everything for a chance to return to his former home.