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Defensive Dearth Forces Klopp into Late Liverpool Winter Window Signings

They say necessity is the mother of invention. On the face of it, Liverpool's answer to their current defensive crisis was to sign players from a mid-table Championship club and the team sitting rock bottom of the Bundesliga.

 

Jurgen Klopp has used a dozen different centre back pairings during the campaign to date, as serious injuries ended the season early for all of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and later Joel Matip. He had to sign someone; however desperate it might look.

 

As reigning Premier League champions, the Reds cannot mount a proper defence of the title with a makeshift backline. Manchester City found that out to their cost when they didn't replace Vincent Kompany and Liverpool benefited from that last season.

 

Ben Davies is a left-sided central defender with over 250 professional games under his belt. Over the last three-and-a-half seasons he became a regular at Preston North End following several loan spells away from Deepdale at lower levels.

 

 

 

 

It's a bit of a jump from the Championship to challenging at the top of the Premier League. Davies has been thrown in at the deep end, but the crisis is an opportunity for him to prove himself at a higher level.

 

Some honest, if a little unflattering, quotes from Klopp came out after his signing. It's true that the Reds wouldn't normally recruit from Preston, but such is the nature of this situation.

 

The loan capture of Turkey defender Ozkan Kabak is arguably even more perplexing. Klopp sought a recommendation from David Wagner, the ex-Huddersfield Town boss who previously worked on his staff at Borussia Dortmund.

 

Wagner, who signed Kabak for Schalke from relegated Stuttgart over the summer of 2019 when he was voted Bundesliga rookie of the year the previous season, gave him a ringing endorsement. The table does not lie, however.

 

 

Schalke are well adrift at the foot of the Bundesliga with the worst defence in the division. In the 14 games Kabak played before leaving this season, he was part of a backline that conceded 38 goals.

He has also served a four-match ban this term, so the player nicknamed the "Turkish Wall" leaves a lot to be desired on paper. Kabak looks just as big a gamble as Davies.

 

Both players ideally need time to adjust to their new surroundings and to step up a level, but the way things are at Anfield they cannot have that luxury. Based on the fixture list on Sporticos: Football Today, they have a nice fixture against Brighton coming up before facing major rivals Man City, which is likely to be a trial by fire for the new arrivals.

 

Any predictions about their performances must consider that this is very much a throw of the dice by Liverpool. Using players out of position as stop-gap solutions such as regular midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson hasn't exactly worked.

 

In many ways, it could be a no-win situation for Klopp. He is left cursing his bad luck with injuries in a key area. To do nothing and not sign cover would've invited criticism, while it remains to be seen how Davies and Kabak fare in front of the famous Kop. 

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