Since joining Liverpool Fc (The Reds) on January 2018, Virgil Van Dijk has been ever present. Besides being the cornerstone for the Reds Defence, the Dutchman played an instrumental part in the the Club’s successes.
Unfortunately, Van Dijk sustained a potential Season ending knee injury during the Everton Fc match. Last week, he had undergone a successful surgery on his injured knee, thereby sidelining the Influential Defender for an indeterminate period.
Without the reliable Van Dijk, the Reds had to rely on defenders like Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips from the Reds Youth Academy. The Duo had played well in their recent games.
Nevertheless, Youth Academy Players cannot be relied upon to play well against Top Quality Oppositions due to insufficient Top Flight Football Experience.
In an uncertain Economic period and the complexities caused as a result of COVID-19, the Reds did a commendable job to strengthen the squad during the Summer Transfer Window 2020 .
Yet, the Reds Recruitment Team did not make any concerted efforts to bring in a Backup Defender to replace the departed Dejan Lovren. The Croatian joined FC Zenit Saint Petersburg around end of July 2020.
By choosing not to bring in a Backup Defender, Jürgen Klopp and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) took a big gamble.
Also despite performing inconsistently or be unavailable due to injuries, Klopp still continued to show faith on Joël Matip and particularly the youngster Joe Gomez. The young Englishman’s bright talent is unquestionable.
Matip’s frequent injuries helped Gomez to establish a formidable defensive partnership with Van Dijk. However, the real problem for the Reds is when both Matip and Gomez are injured or out of form.
In the absence of both Van Dijk and Matip, Klopp utilised Fabinho as a Makeshift Defender and the Brazilian did a decent job deputising in the absence of Van Dijk.
Still, Fabinho is a natural Holding Midfielder and as such, it is unfair to criticise the Brazilian for any shortcomings that may arise as to whenever he is lined up in the heart of the Reds defence.
The Reds defensive injury crisis deepened after Fabinho pulled his hamstring during the FC Midtjylland game. The Reds are now left with Joe Gomez as the only fit player capable of playing as a Center Back.
Even though he was been named among the Substitutes for the Atalanta game, still Matip’s timely return has been a massive boost for the Reds. But, Matip recently has been too prone to injuries.
Moreover, with the hopes of winning Back-to-Back Premier League Titles; the Reds simply cannot afford the drop in the player performances or key players being sidelined for too long.
By racking up 190+ Points over course of the last 2 Seasons, the Reds themselves have set the bar very high through consistent performances on route to winning the Premier League 2019-20 Title and in the process, smashed several Premier League records along the way.
Also it is important to point that Van Dijk will turn 30 next year and therefore, the Reds would need to eventually start searching for the heir to the towering Dutchman.
One player that has been repeatedly been linked with the Reds is Dayot Upamecano. The young Frenchman is only 21 Years Old and was a standout performer under Julian Nagelsmann over the last couple of Seasons.
If required, the FSG are well known to splurge Large Sums of Money on the right kind of player that meets their specific requirements. Players like Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Naby Keïta and most recently Diogo Jota are fine examples.
Like Van Dijk, Upamecano has strong Leadership skills and is very good at marshalling his defences.
Besides being blessed with pace, dribbling as well as passing skills, the young Frenchman is especially adept at pressing which is one of the key attributes that Klopp’s Gegen-pressing tactics requires.
Upamecano has all the attributes to become a World Class Defender: Physical strength, Tackling, Impeccable Concentration and Man Marking.
All these attributes are very similar to Van Dijk which is why Upamecano can be the heir to Van Djik and under Klopp, Upamecano can improve greatly.
Verdict: Given the Club’s current defensive crisis, the Reds interest in pursuing the transfer of Upamecano in January 2021 would not be a surprise.
Both Klopp and Nagelsmann have similar attacking football philosophies. So, the young Frenchman would most likely get quickly accustomed to Klopp’s tactics.
The Reds maintain a cordial business relationship with the Red Bull Group. In the past, the club has bought Takumi Minamino from FC Red Bull Salzburg and Naby Keïta from RB Leipzig.
So this cordial business relationship would be an added advantage for the Reds as they would be in the perfect position to quickly wrap the transfer of Upamecano.
Furthermore; buying Upamecano would also make perfect sense. The young Frenchman would resolve both the short term defensive issues and become the player for the future.