4 defenders Liverpool could sign following Joel Matip injury

Following Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp revealed Joel Matip had ruptured his ACL and that the centre-back is likely going to miss the rest of the season. 

We may have seen the last of the defender as a Liverpool player with the 32-year-old being out of contract in the summer.

However, there is a possibility that his deal will be extended by 12 months to allow him to recover without the stress of having to find a new club. The Reds have done similar things previously with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana.

Regardless of what happens there though, it is clear that the defence needs to be bolstered during the January transfer window if Liverpool are to mount a title challenge.

Without Matip at his disposal, Klopp’s options are limited.

Ibrahima Konate was dominant against Sheffield United, winning 100% of his aerial duels, but he is forever picking up niggles. He’s already had three separate spells on the sidelines this season and we’re only just into December.

Joe Gomez is a centre-back by trade but he’s spent most of this season covering the full-back areas. He’s been needed too, with Andrew Robertson and Conor Bradley out injured. Gomez's versatility has allowed Klopp to rotate both Kostas Tsimikas and Trent Alexander-Arnold over recent weeks.

Virgil van Dijk looks back to his imperious best and Jarell Quansah, nicknamed “Virgil 2.0” by the boss recently, has impressed whenever on the pitch, but the Reds are lacking real depth in defence now.

One more injury to a senior centre-back and we’re not far away from the 2020/21 situation. Will it be Wataru Endo covering at centre-back? He’s played there before.

Wataru Endo - Pro Shots

Wataru Endo - Pro Shots

In truth though, the Reds shouldn’t again be in this type of situation.

If midfielders are having to fill in at centre-back, something has gone disastrously wrong.

Of course, Nat Phillips returns from his loan spell with Celtic soon. The centre-back hasn’t really settled with the Scottish club and finds himself lower down in the pecking order. It is unlikely that the loan spell is extended and if the Reds are short defensively, the easiest solution would be to keep the 26-year-old around.

However, that is a short-term approach to what has the potential to be a long-term problem. At some point, Matip is going to have to be replaced, so why not look to bring in his long-term successor in January? It would allow them the opportunity to bed in ahead of pre-season and that can be vital to their development at the club.

Furthermore, their minutes might be managed, so it isn’t as though they will be thrown in at the deep end. With Bradley back and Andrew Robertson expected to return in the New Year, Gomez can be moved into a centre-back position to help with the rotation cycle if needed.

So, if Liverpool are going to dip into the transfer market this January, who might be on their agenda?

Lucas Beraldo (Sao Paulo)

Lucas Beraldo - Pro Shots

Lucas Beraldo - Pro Shots

Linked with a move to Anfield recently, the Sao Paulo starlet has a long list of admirers according to multiple reports. Fabrizio Romano recently claimed he hadn’t heard of any Liverpool interest in the £20m-rated defender. Beraldo’s name does keep popping up though and he certainly ticks a few boxes for the Reds.

He’s progressive in possession, sees a lot of the ball for the Brazilian side and is comfortable in wide areas.

He wouldn’t break the bank and he has a lot of potential. Do the Reds need someone who is a little more developed though? Especially with Quansah taking up the role as project centre-back right now?

Goncalo Inacio (Sporting CP)

Goncalo Inacio - Pro Shots

Goncalo Inacio - Pro Shots

Per multiple outlets over the summer, Inacio was on Liverpool’s radar. A move never materialised though and he remained with Sporting CP.

He is mentioned every few weeks though. The 22-year-old recently penned a new deal with the Lisbon giants and this increased his release clause to around the £52m mark. He wouldn’t be cheap but by no means is he expensive when you consider what Josko Gvardiol went for in the summer.

The Sporting centre-back is confident when stepping into midfield with possession and he’s extremely tidy in possession. Like with Beraldo though, his best position is on the left so he would be arriving as an understudy to Van Dijk.

This could move Quansah over to the right permanently.

It isn’t the worst idea but could the money be better spent?

Antonio Silva (Benfica)

Antonio Silva, ProShots

Staying in Portugal now, we have Silva. The Benfica wonderkid was named as a Liverpool transfer target a while back and the club are reportedly keeping tabs on his development. He wouldn’t be cheap – he has a £95m release clause and a deal with the Lisbon-based club until 2027, but the upside to him as a player is massive.

For that sort of money though you want more of a guarantee. Silva would be a risk.

He would have to adapt to the league, for starters. He would have to get used to being part of a rotation cycle and there are parts of his game he would have to scale to fit in at Liverpool. It is possible, but spending a club record fee on a player who needs to make so many changes is a huge gamble. There’s no getting away from that.

The 20-year-old would also be a bit of a project, like with Beraldo, but he would arrive with a hefty price tag and massive expectations. I wouldn’t rule it out, but it would be a surprise.

Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Marc Guehi, ProShots

Finally, we have Guehi. He was rumoured to be on Liverpool’s summer wish list, which at the time was a bit of a surprise.

The Reds usually like physically dominant centre-backs and the former Chelsea man doesn’t fall into that category. He holds his own in duels but he’s not a monster like Van Dijk, Matip or Konate.

However, his use of the ball is impressive and if he can move his team from the defensive third to the midfield third, similar to how Matip moves through the thirds, that might be the appeal. He has Premier League experience and is now an England regular. You know what you’re getting with him.

He might not have the potential that others do but he can impact this starting XI immediately.

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