Liverpool’s defensive transformation can almost be considered complete now that Alisson is between the sticks, but Jurgen Klopp remains short of one quality option in central defence.
Firstly Andrew Robertson established himself at left-back, then Virgil Van Dijk joined Liverpool in a £75 million deal and Alisson completed a stunning summer switch to round off a year of defensive progress. All three of the aforementioned players served to transform Liverpool’s defensive unit, but until the club secure the signature of one more quality option in central defence they will remain reliant on Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren to deputise for Joe Gomez and Van Dijk.
Matip has stepped up to the plate in Gomez’s absence recently, while Lovren has been a player transformed since Van Dijk arrived at the club – but yet something feels missing.
Nathaniel Clyne’s impressive return to form against Manchester United may well ensure that Gomez’s occasional appearances at full-back will be at a premium moving forward, paving the way for him to establish a formidable partnership with Van Dijk.
However, Klopp must do everything in his power to ensure Liverpool continue on this upward trajectory they find themselves on, so signing a player to replace Lovren and build for the long-term should be on the agenda.
With that said, Klopp should be monitoring the progress of Ajax’s Mathijs de Ligt, a player who has been described as ‘the new Jaap Stam’, according to The Guardian journalist Jacob Steinberg.
The comparisons being made are brazen but founded on justifiable grounds: De Ligt is physically imposing, born and raised in Holland and destined to reach the summit of European football.
Ajax’s academy system is renowned for its ability to handpick and develop the finest selection of talent Holland has to offer, and the fact De Ligt is a golden boy amongst the latest batch of wonderkids to emerge is indicative of his unique ability.
Naturally Liverpool will be looking at Van Dijk and Gomez as the long-term partnership to lead the club into a successful new era, but adding the Dutch colossus would bring a distinctive layer of solidity to the defensive line.
It’s not a case of replacing Gomez with De Ligt, far from it infact; it’s a case of adding the necessary strength in depth which is needed to sustain a challenge to Man City’s supremacy.
Van Dijk is the first-choice defender, the leader of the pack and the embodiment of everything positive about Liverpool at this current moment, that much is undisputed, but Liverpool cannot rely on him and the emerging Gomez without support from one other top quality defender.
De Ligt has the potential to become world class and dominate the Premier League, and his arrival would delight Gomez and Van Dijk as Liverpool strive to establish themselves as one of the best sides on the continent.
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