Joel Matip is out injured again. The responsibility of cover has been placed on the shoulders of 19-year-old Rhys Williams. His influence could shape Liverpool’s plans for the January transfer window.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with West Brom that Matip will miss the following fixture against Newcastle United on Wednesday as a result of a groin problem.
With the Cameroonian defender out, it was up to Williams to partner Fabinho in the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
This is something we have seen before, after all. Williams was recently at hand alongside the Brazilian during Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.
Considering it was his Premier League debut, Williams was outstanding. Only 12 months prior, he was playing for Kidderminster Harriers in National League North. Fast forward a year and he was up against the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
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Matip’s latest injury setback has once again fuelled talks of Liverpool entering the market for defensive cover in January.
A busy period awaits for Liverpool. The Reds have three consecutive away trips to Newcastle, Southampton and Aston Villa before Klopp and his team welcome Manchester United to Anfield a week later.
The quick turnaround suggests Williams could feature in all of the aforementioned fixtures. If he performs well, Liverpool may resist the urge to invest in January.
After-all, Matip’s injury lay-off could see him back sooner than expected. Klopp suggested he would be out for a few weeks. With that said, he could be back before matches against Spurs and West Ham next month.
Also, let’s not forget Nat Phillips has also done a job for the Reds when called upon. The 23-year-old impressed greatly in his performances against West Ham and Brighton.
This in effect, leaves Klopp still with two options to choose from to partner Fabinho. Buying someone in the New Year doesn’t necessarily guarantee a solution.
With Fabinho in defence, Liverpool have conceded just one goal from open-play. Even without the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, the Reds have remained resolute defensively.
This prompts more cause for Liverpool to hand greater responsibility in the coming weeks to Williams and Phillips. In the absence of his first-choice centre-back partnership, Klopp has uncovered internal solutions to maintain the team’s relentless standards. Abandoning the same approach in January is unlikely.
So Matip’s return could keep Williams in the team before the year ticks over. How he performs effectively could save the club millions in January.