James Pearce of The Athletic recently joined host Gav Doyle on a special edition of the LFC Daytrippers podcast to discuss all things Liverpool and a new book in which the journalist’s work features titled “The End of The Storm”.
The Liverpool correspondent was asked his thoughts on the recent injury sustained by Virgil van Dijk during last weekend’s Merseyside derby. The 29-year-old, as a result of Jordan Pickford’s challenge, now faces a ‘lengthy lay-off’ with a knee injury.
The England goalkeeper has escaped retrospective action following the tackle and Pearce, when asked to comment on the topic, has suggested that Jurgen Klopp and his team took a “real risk” by not adding another centre-back to the squad prior to the Dutchman’s injury.
“In terms of the transfer side of things, it’s not just the benefit of hindsight, I wrote a few times in the summer that I felt a centre-half was an absolute priority in terms of bringing in a signing.
“I just thought it was a risk, a real risk [not signing a centre-back]. I know the thinking behind it, the thinking was that money is pretty thin on the ground this summer, there are other areas that we really do need to strengthen, we need a backup left-back, we need better cover for the front three, Thiago is a no-brainer in terms of being able to sign a world-class player for a modest amount of money but it didn’t really sit right with me, mainly because of [Joel] Matip’s injury record.”
Did Liverpool make a costly error by not signing another centre-back in the summer?
TIF Thoughts on James Pearce’s comments regarding the decision not to add another defender…
It’s clear from what Pearce had to say, he felt that particular area of the squad needed strengthening even prior to Virgil van Dijk’s injury and that was largely down to the fitness record of Joel Matip. The Cameroonian defender missed 20 games through injury last season, seven during the 2018/19 season and 23 during the 2017/18 season (as per Transfermarkt) – therefore you can understand why there is a reluctance on the journalist’s part to trust in him staying fit.
With the transfer window now closed, Liverpool will have to make do with what they already have in the squad. Fabinho, a defensive-midfield player by trade played at centre-back during their recent win at Ajax in the UEFA Champions League and put in an impressive display, earning him a rating of 8.71/10, making him the man of the match according to WhoScored. Taking that into account, the Brazilian could be a very capable deputy at least until they are able to dip back into the transfer market.