Liverpool backed to sign ‘A-list centre-half’ in January to challenge Van Dijk and Gomez

Liverpool should sign a top central defender in January who can compete with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez when the duo are fit, according to former Reds midfielder Don Hutchison. Van Dijk and Gomez are likely to miss the remainder of the season due to respective knee injuries. Van Dijk injured his anterior cruciate ligament in October and Gomez underwent surgery on his patellar tendon in his left knee on Thursday.

That leaves Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seriously short of senior players to play in the middle of defence.

Joel Matip is currently available but has struggled with injuries of his own in the last 12 months.

Midfielder Fabinho is close to recovering from his hamstring problem, while Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips lack experience at the top level.

Hutchison says Klopp should back Williams and Phillips to help fill the void left by Van Dijk and Gomez up until the January window.

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However, he says if Liverpool are to be busy in January, they must go all out to sign the best option to provide competition for places in the future.

Hutchison told ESPN FC: “[Klopp will] come up with a game plan and he may give one of the rookie centre-halves to stake a claim because it might dent their confidence if they see Jordan Henderson or James Milner go and play in their position.

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“So he might give Nat Phillips a start, who’s very, very good in the air, I think Rhys Williams is a little bit quicker over the ground, so he might play him looking at the Jamie Vardy factor.

“But it’s important that whoever plays, and I think Fabinho’s going to be fit, but I think whoever fills this void in the short term tries to get Liverpool through the next few games, the next period, to try and get them to January.

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“I think [Dayot] Upamecano’s buyout clause at Leipzig is £40million [next summer], so that’s not a huge amount of money for such a young talent.

“[Kalidou] Koulibaly is still at Napoli who was valued at about £60m, so I think what it does is it really pushes Liverpool into the transfer market to go and buy an A-list centre-half, and when Joe Gomez is back and when Virgil van Dijk is back, they’ve still got that quality.

“The squad from there will only be stronger.”

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