Ozan Kabak (Loan)
Ben Davies (£1.6 million)
Takumi Minamino (Loan)
According to reports, Liverpool never intended to dip into the transfer market in January, but an injury crisis in defence forced their hand. The club was already without Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk for the entire season after both suffered long term knee injuries. In their absence, Joel Matip was playing in defence alongside midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho or academy players such as Nat Phillips or Rhys Williams. Unfortunately, Joel Matip was forced off injured in Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham and was later ruled out for the entire season with ankle ligament damage. This meant Liverpool had no fit centre-backs at the club and had no option other than to enter the transfer market to look for solutions.
Liverpool however was still adamant to not go for short-term solutions that would cause them problems later down the line. They were offered the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis from Arsenal but sporting director Michael Edwards insisted they were only looking at options that would improve the club in the long-term. On Deadline Day, Liverpool signed not one but two centre-halves to fix their injury crisis.
Who are their two new signings?
The first was Preston North End defender Ben Davies who was signed for a fee of £1.6 million. The Englishman only had 6 months left on his contract which allowed Liverpool to sign him for such an economical fee. Davies has come up the footballing pyramid the hard way, with spells in the lower leagues with York City, Tranmere Rovers and Fleetwood Town. He is naturally left-footed, which provides better balance while building out from the back and also means he could deputize for Andy Robertson at left-back on occasion. Davies is known for his ability on the ball and he is someone who is very comfortable in possession, a vital ingredient for a Jurgen Klopp centre-back. Davies likes to dribble the ball out of defence and is also a competent defender that is good in the air.
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Liverpool’s second deadline-day signing was the more exciting of the two, with highly-rated Schalke defender Ozan Kabak signing on a loan deal till the end of the summer. The deal only costs Liverpool a £1.5 million loan fee with an option to buy him for £18 million in the summer if Liverpool and Klopp like what they see. Kabak is a very highly rated defender in Germany and was voted the Bundesliga rookie of the season in 2018-19. Kabak has been described as a player who is extremely comfortable on the ball, physically strong and a monster in the air, capable of being a menace in both penalty boxes.
What other transfers did Liverpool do?
Liverpool was involved with one last piece of business on deadline day with Japanese International Takumi Minamino going out on loan to Southampton till the end of the season. Minamino has struggled to make an impression at Anfield and has only started 2 League games all season. He will get more minutes at Southampton and it will be a good fit for Minamino given that Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhutl and Jurgen Klopp share a similar footballing philosophy.
How will Liverpool line up after these additions?
It is unlikely we will see both Kabak and Davies start together for Liverpool anytime soon, with Klopp saying the prospect of them playing together was “not too cool.” Fortunately, Liverpool is blessed with strong-minded leaders at the back and Jordan Henderson and Fabinho will shepherd the two youngsters into the side and help them learn the ropes of the Liverpool system. At this moment in time, Liverpool’s first-choice centre-half pairing will most likely be Fabinho alongside Kabak, with Ben Davies and Henderson filling in from time to time.
What does this mean for Liverpool’s second half of the season?
If Liverpool failed to strengthen at the back this winter, they were in danger of conceding the title to Manchester City. Injuries and freak losses to Aston Villa and Burnley have derailed Liverpool’s title defence but the solid additions in the winter window may give Liverpool the momentum they need to mount a decent challenge for the title again. Manchester City have won their last 8 Premier League games in a row and don’t look like they will be dropping too many points between now and the end of the season. With these new defensive signings, Liverpool will have to go on a similar run to catch the Cityzens and stand a chance of defending their crown.
[Image Credit: Liverpool FC]