When it comes to the January transfer window, Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp could be forgiven for still making tweaks to a formulated plan once the market reopens in just over a month’s time.
The club is still looking to integrate players signed in the summer window such as Thiago Alcantara and Kostas Tsimikas while Diogo Jota has adapted to life at Anfield with flying colours.
Liverpool are also having to find solutions amid an ongoing injury crisis that currently sees the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely to miss the rest of the season.
There are a number of steps Liverpool need to consider to make the upcoming window a success…
Do not allow important fringe players to leave
The top priority is to ensure that Klopp’s squad is significantly bolstered to cope with the gargantuan injury strain that has been placed at the manager’s feet so far this season.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Nathaniel Phillips were all touted with Anfield departures in the summer window and suddenly all of the aforementioned names have become important squad players to Klopp.
Indeed, Liverpool may want to reduce the club’s wage bill yet when you’ve had more than 12 injury setbacks already this season allowing key personnel to leave just doesn’t make sense.
Deal with the defensive situation
Both Van Dijk and Gomez are currently nursing long-term knee injuries while Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to face another three weeks on the sidelines as a result of a calf-problem.
That’s already three members of Klopp’s first-choice defensive quartet facing a sustained period out of first-team contention.
Adding another defender is certainly a priority for the club but the real question is whether Liverpool are to accelerate a summer scenario to January if the need and availability matched up.
According to The Athletic, Liverpool currently have no intention of entering the winter market to bolster in that position or any other for that matter.
This can of course still change if Liverpool identify the right target and he suddenly becomes available at a sensible price. The Reds have shown flexibility in the past yet are not accustomed to making knee-jerk reactions and do not anticipate deviating from this path even if results were to deteriorate.
As a consequence, the list of viable targets drawn up have included RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and Bayern Munich’s David Alaba.
React to injuries
With 11 matches taking place over the next 36 days, Liverpool would be naive to believe that they have passed the hump and are here-forth immune from further setbacks.
This could create holes in the sqaud that need to be addressed. For instance, if Joel Matip were to get injured – which is increasingly likely given his fitness record – do Liverpool bring forward plans to sign another centre-back?
Liverpool need to be ready to react, and have a shortlist of targets ready who can be recruited if the need becomes urgent.
Even if the bulk of Klopp’s remaining options are to stay fit from now until January, Liverpool need to stay opportunistic in a market where some clubs may need to cash in on players.
Liverpool have landed bargains in recent windows for the likes of Jota, Thiago and Minamino and it has had a positive impact on the squad. New faces at the start of 2021 could have a similarly galvanising effect, particularly with the number of casualties the club are currently nursing.
One strategy Liverpool could look towards is identifying players who are likely to see their price-tag rocket as a result of the upcoming Euro 2021 tournament next summer. Moving early and getting ahead of the curb could become a shrewd investment.
Likewise, being prepared to pay a little extra to land reported ‘top target’ Dayot Upamecano now before his release clause can be activated in the summer, could see Liverpool beat their rivals to his signature.
Plan for the front-three
As it stands, Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will all be 29 come the end of the season and a transitional plan for new recruits will become increasingly more relevant.
If this is Liverpool’s plan, then drawing up a candidate of replacements will become in the club’s immediate interests.
Klopp and the Reds got ahead in the game when it came to adding Jota earlier this summer, a similar strategy wouldn’t go amiss if Liverpool are to get ahead of the game.
Assess young player loans
The final step for Liverpool to take is to carefully look at which players on loan should stay where they are, and who could be moved on.
For instance, both Harry Wilson and Harvey Elliott are thriving in their loan periods with Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
There are also a handful of young players in the academy who could benefit from spending the second half of the season out on loan, with midfielder Jake Cain one who stands out.