Even the most optimistic of Liverpool fans will be looking at the Premier League table with a sense of dread despite the nine-point gap separating the Reds from Manchester City. This happens given the history of collapses and near misses they’ve lived through over the last 30 years.
The easy option for us would be to reassure those fearing the worst with explanations of ‘you only dropped 17 points in the whole of last season’ and ‘City are shot to bits without Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte’ but that last point is key.
Manchester City are vulnerable without Kompany and Laporte in their side. That is a fact. The trouble is Jurgen Klopp would find the exact same issue if anything was to happen to Virgil Van Dijk.
Another issue that might arise for Klopp is if the summers African Cup of Nations and Copa America catch up with the squad given the star trio of Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane are yet to have a substantial break since last year.
Thankfully, Klopp has the winter window to alleviate some of those concerns – if he so wishes. With that in mind, here are five players who could present themselves as realistic targets to jet into Anfield part way through the campaign.
5 – SANDER BERGE
Klopp might face competition for 21-year-old Berge with both Chelsea and Napoli also believed to be monitoring his situation. Berge played for Genk against Liverpool in this seasons Champions League and spoke glowingly about his suitors. Berge wouldn’t be an improvement on what Liverpool currently have available in the middle of the park, but he would be an ideal prospect to blood under Fabinho as well as filling in as an able deputy.
4 – RYAN FRASER
Scottish winger Fraser continues to turn in impressive displays with his direct running and pinpoint deliveries a key aspect of Bournemouth’s attacking play. The one-time Ipswich loanee is outgrowing his current club and Arsenal were heavily linked in the summer but Klopp should consider him as an option who would bring proven Premier League quality to his subs bench and ready to impact games against tiring defences.
3 – TAKUMI MINAMINO
An alternative wing option is Minamino of RB Salzburg. The Japanese international will probably be familiar to you after turning in a superb display – including a goal and assist – at Anfield earlier in the season but he’s been a consistent performer for Salzburg contributing six goals and nine assists in 17 appearances so far this season.
In addition, the style of football under Jesse Marsch is a high pressing game with an emphasis on winning the ball back high up the pitch, so a transition to Klopp’s team should be an easy one.
2 – THOMAS MULLER
Muller is perhaps an outside of the box option for Klopp to consider but the Bayern Munich forward is reportedly unhappy at his reduced role since the arrival of a certain Philippe Coutinho. Muller would be an exceptional option to bolster the striking options available at Anfield, which might prove key as the season runs deeper. The German international hasn’t been hitting the net as much as he would have liked so far this campaign but he’s still averaging an assist every 90 minutes and his all-round game is as good as ever.
1 – NATHAN AKE
It’s another Bournemouth man who sits at number one on our list; the ex-Chelsea centre back would form an incredible pairing with fellow countryman Van Dijk and, at 24 years old, will likely develop even further.
Ake has proven himself to be a top defender with as much pace as a horse running the Kentucky Derby race and also strength and reading of the game as standout qualities. It would probably cost a fair whack to tempt Eddie Howe and co to part with their star defender, but it would be worth every penny.
Liverpool face Southampton on February 1st and if any of the five reinforcements mentioned are in place by then Klopp’s chances of getting his hands on the Premier League crown will have increased exponentially.