Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp seemed to express faith in his current options last week, but after watching a grim defeat at Brentford, his stance may change once again.
Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool have a reputation for being rigid in their model, sometimes to their own detriment. But in recent times, they have become more reactive, and less stubborn, when it comes to decisions around playing personnel.
We have, for instance, seen transfer plans brought forward by injury crises. Liverpool didn’t intend to sign a centre-back until the end of the 2020/21 campaign but, following a season-ending injury to Joël Matip, they did late deals for Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies.
This year, meanwhile, the Reds moved for Cody Gakpo a window earlier than they had anticipated, in part because injuries to Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota left them without a specialist left-winger.
The signing of Arthur last summer was ostensibly a response to a hamstring suffered by Jordan Henderson in the 2-1 win over Newcastle United, but the reality may have been a little different.
Liverpool had come under enormous pressure to bring in another midfielder after producing only two wins, and one convincing performance, in their first five Premier League matches.
Jürgen Klopp had expressed faith in his pre-existing options but remarkably admitted, even before Henderson’s injury, that he was ‘wrong’ and that the media were right in a press conference late in August (via Mail).
FSG had also faced a backlash a year earlier when it emerged that Henderson may be allowed to leave the club as the end of his contract approached. They wound up handing the ageing skipper a £140,000-per-week extension that will take him to the age of 35.
Klopp pushed for the extension, but the club appeared sensitive to the overarching sentiment of the fanbase too (via The Athletic).
Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Brentford on Monday may serve as the latest trigger for the club to act.
Liverpool are aware of their midfield weakness — news broke shortly before kick-off that they were planning a £44m ($52m/€50m) deal for Wolves’ Matheus Nunes in the summer (via The Telegraph) — but they may once again have to address it sooner than hoped, with the consequences of inaction becoming increasingly clear.
The loss at the Gtech Community Stadium perhaps laid the bare the reality that, as Jamie Carragher put it, Liverpool have ‘no chance’ of finishing in the top four without a new acquisition (via Sky Sports).
By virtue of playing earlier than the rest of the league this week — Chelsea and Manchester City don’t wrap up the round of fixtures until Thursday — Liverpool have a valuable 11-day window on their hands.
They’re not back in Premier League action until 14 January, when they face another tricky fixture away at Brighton.
Even if they can’t get a new midfielder through the door before this weekend’s FA Cup third-round clash with Wolves, they could still offer any new arrival plentiful training time before they head to the south coast for what is, in truth, a more meaningful game.
This is a rare and precious opportunity for some quality work at the AXA Training Centre before the schedule ramps back up again and recovery demands impose limitations on training.
Klopp defiantly insisted before the clash with Brentford that Liverpool can’t play ‘Monopoly’ after adding Gakpo their ranks, and seemed relaxed about the prospect of no further additions, hinting that he was content with the squad as it is (via The Mirror).
But after watching his side’s dismal defeat in West London, perhaps he and FSG may be forced into their second U-turn of the season.