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5 Possible January Transfer Window Center-Back Signings for Liverpool in 2021

| November 19, 2020 5:05 am PDT
Center-Backs Liverpool Could Target in the January

When Virgil van Dijk was ruled out for the remainder of the season following Jordan Pickford’s clumsy tackle in October’s Merseyside derby, Liverpool was expected to be active in the January transfer window.

But after the news that Joe Gomez will also be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Jurgen Klopp will almost certainly be looking to sign one or two defenders.

With their first-choice center-back pairing injured, the Reds are in desperate need of reinforcements. Thankfully, the transfer window isn’t too far away.

Join me as I discuss five possible center-backs that Liverpool could target in the January transfer window.

David Alaba – Bayern Munich

I don’t think there is a club in world soccer that wouldn’t be interested in adding David Alaba to their ranks. Having won everything there is to win with Bayern Munich, the Austrian is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the game.

But with the player and the club reportedly failing to agree on a new contract, Alaba looks set to leave Bavaria before the start of next season.

With just one year remaining on his current contract, the 28-year-old is likely to be available for a bargain fee in January. Bayern won’t want to risk losing Alaba for nothing when his deal expires, so the German giant could be forced to sell him for a cut-price.

Needless to say, Alaba’s potential availability has put many of Europe’s top clubs on red alert. But why would Anfield be an ideal destination?

First of all, Alaba is extremely versatile. He started out as a full-back, but he operates in midfield for his national side. Bayern head coach Hansi Flick has mainly used him as a center-back this season, with many believing that he is now most comfortable at the heart of the defense.

Alaba is also exceptionally pacey, making him the perfect candidate for Klopp’s system. The Reds manager utilizes a high-tempo approach, meaning Alaba would be able to adapt quickly.

But perhaps most importantly, the Bayern man should be a relatively cheap option. While many of Europe’s top defenders are currently valued at around €100m, Alaba would cost a fraction of that price.

Conor Coady – Wolves

It is no secret that Conor Coady is a Merseysider. Indeed, he came through the ranks of the Liverpool academy, before being sold by the Reds in 2014.

Coady has since guided Wolves from the Championship to the Premier League, gaining bags of top-flight understanding along the way. At 27, the England international is now vastly experienced. His know-how of the league could be exactly what Klopp is looking for.

Sure, he won’t be the most glamorous name on Liverpool’s center-back shortlist. But if the Reds want someone who can come in and make an immediate impact, I think Coady is a very sensible choice.

Liverpool has already poached one of the Wolves’ star players this year. Forward Diogo Jota has hit the ground running his joining the club in September, notching up seven goals in 11 appearances in all competitions.

If Coady was to equal Jota’s impact at the other end of the pitch, he would become an immediate hero.

Coady generally operates in the middle of a back three for Wolves, meaning he would need to adapt to a new system at Liverpool. But having established himself as one of the most competent center-backs in the EPL, I don’t think that will be too much of an issue.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Coady feels he has a point to prove at Anfield. After being released by the club, he will surely be eager to return and show everyone that he can play at the highest level.

Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli

Whenever the transfer window rolls around, Kalidou Koulibaly’s name pops up. It feels as though the Napoli defender has been linked with just about every elite club in Europe over the years, yet his big move never seems to materialize.

But with Liverpool in desperate need of a top-quality center-back, could this finally be Koulibaly’s opportunity?

There is absolutely no doubting his quality. The Senegal captain joined Italian side Napoli in 2014 and has since made over 250 appearances for the club. His pace and power make him the perfect modern-day center-back, so it’s no surprise that Liverpool is rumored to be interested in acquiring his services.

However, he won’t be cheap.

It is believed that Napoli will only listen to offers of around €80m. That is a serious amount of money! With Koulibaly now 29, it could be argued that he is past his best. Liverpool will surely be reluctant to spend a hefty fee on an aging player.

I don’t think anyone can argue that Koulibaly wouldn’t be a fantastic addition to Klopp’s squad, but it does seem like it could be a tricky transfer to engineer. As much as Liverpool would love to have Koulibaly on board, the asking price is likely to deter the Reds.

Still, I wouldn’t rule out this move altogether. Liverpool’s recruitment has been second to none in recent years. Michael Edwards – the club’s sporting director – could easily have another surprise up his sleeve.

Dayot Upamecano – RB Leipzig

Dayot Upamecano is perhaps the most talked-about young center-back in Europe right now. I mean, if you’re a soccer fan and you haven’t heard of him, where have you been?

At just 22, the Frenchman has already made over a century of appearances for RB Leipzig. He has also gained international recognition in recent months, making his full France debut in September.

Not only is the Leipzig man comfortable with the ball at his feet, his physicality also makes him a monster in the air. In fact, he is probably the closest thing to Virgil van Dijk that Liverpool could get at the moment.

In my opinion, Upamecano’s experience of playing under Julian Nagelsmann means he would almost certainly excel at Liverpool. Nagelsmann and Klopp have similar philosophies, so the intelligent defender is already familiar with playing in a high-pressing team.

Unfortunately for the Reds, Upamecano signed a new contract earlier in the year. His new deal does include a €42m release clause, although that clause can only be triggered at the end of the current campaign.

If Liverpool is willing to pay in excess of €42m in January, Leipzig may be persuaded to sell the player sooner than planned. It wouldn’t be the most pragmatic piece of transfer business that Liverpool has carried out, but it could save their season.

James Tarkowski – Burnley

As far as experienced Premier League center-backs go, James Tarkowski is pretty much as good as it gets. The Burnley star is closing in on 150 EPL appearances and has been a rock at the heart of the Clarets’ defense for almost five years now.

Of course, Burnley’s style of play could hardly be more different Liverpool’s. Sean Dyche’s side relies on long balls and crosses into the box, so Tarkowski isn’t used to playing out from the back. But I believe he possesses more than enough quality to transform his game.

While the likes of Upamecano and Koulibaly are ball-playing center-backs, Tarkowski is much more of an old-fashioned defender. Still, his no-nonsense approach would undoubtedly benefit Liverpool.

Instead of gambling on an overseas import, the Reds could be tempted to opt for a player who already has Premier League experience in the locker. With that in mind, Tarkowski is bound to be on Klopp’s radar.

Better still, Tarkowski’s Burnley contract is running down. By the time the January transfer window opens, he will be into the last 18 months of his current deal. The possibility of acquiring the 27-year-old for a cut-price will be very attractive.

The majority of Liverpool supporters will no doubt want a big-name signing. However, the more realistic fans will view Tarkowski as a shrewd option.

Closing Thoughts

Losing your star center-back at the start of the season is not ideal, but with Liverpool missing both of their first-choice central defenders due to injury, I would be seriously shocked if Klopp doesn’t dip into the transfer market when the January window opens.

Joel Matip is the club’s only senior center-back option at the moment. The Cameroon international is a great player, but he can’t carry the Reds’ backline on his own.

Youngsters Rhys Williams and Nathanial Phillips have both deputized admirably in recent games, but again, the inexperienced pair won’t be expected to fill the void left by the injured duo.

Can you think of any other center-backs that Liverpool could target in January? Feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments section below.

Also, if you like betting on soccer, make sure you head over to our soccer picks section.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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