The injury to Virgil van Dijk is not the reason Liverpool must spend on a new centre-half once the January transfer window opens.
Liverpool will surely enter the market in January to sign a new centre-half. They’re a man down, after all, with the injury to Virgil van Dijk potentially ruling him out for the season.
Liverpool now only have two senior centre-halves left – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. That’s not enough but Van Dijk isn’t the reason the Reds have to look.
The real reason is Matip. If the Cameroonian were reliably fit, Liverpool might fancy their chances of surviving the season okay. Fabinho looks like a good centre-half, after all, and can cover the role.
But Matip just can’t stay fit. He picked up an injury around a year ago that kept him out for a long time and he hasn’t looked right since. Another injury on the first game back after the restart ruled him out again. He finally returned against Everton last weekend but was out again on Wednesday.
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If this keeps up, Fabinho will play in defence more often than midfield. It’s not supposed to work that way, even if he is a fourth-choice centre-half.
But long-term, Liverpool can’t include Matip in their primary options for the role. He’s just not fit enough. You can’t have a 29-year-old option who likely can’t play even when others are injured. The injury to Van Dijk doesn’t change anything in that regard – the Reds need to recruit.
This season was supposed to be fine and if Van Dijk weren’t injured, Liverpool would have seen out the season without reinforcement. They may have looked at someone like £40m Dayot Upamecano once the campaign was done.
So all Van Dijk’s injury has really done is bring that need forward. Liverpool can’t wait any longer – they’ll need to invest in January.