- 26 March
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Liverpool have been ‘naive’ in the transfer market and it could cost them, says former defender
Glen Johnson believes that Liverpool’s decision to not sign a central defender either on loan or permanently in the January transfer window could cost them their defence of the Premier League.
This season, Jurgen Klopp has had to field a patched up defence due to the long-term injuries suffered by first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while backup Joel Matip has also been in and out of the team due to injury.
Fabinho has been asked to play in defence, with Jordan Henderson also playing there a couple of times.
Youngsters Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips have also stepped up when asked, but understandably haven’t been able to fill the void by someone like the talismanic figure of Van Dijk.
They have been linked with a number of defenders to come in to provide cover, including Dayot Upamecano, Ben White, and even Sergio Ramos.
The club have decided against bringing someone in – a decision which Johnson believes is “naive”.
“It’s impossible to gauge how many injuries you get in a season, how bad they are and how long each person might take to recover,” the former Liverpool and Chelsea defender told Cheltenham Guides.
“I think they were naive in not getting someone in on loan because the kids – who will hopefully go on to be some fantastic players – are being asked to fill the shoes of Van Dijk and that’s not easy for anybody.
“It’s not as simple as buying a 50, 60, 70 million pound defender that is going to compete.
“The only options they had was to work with the youngsters or get somebody else in on loan and they opted to go with the youngsters and some have been great and some don’t look like they’re ready.
“They’ve been unlucky with too many injuries at once.
“I don’t think Liverpool will have enough to win the league this year, but I expect them to get the top four – but it will be tough.
“There are six clubs fighting for the top four again.”
The comments from Johnson came on Thursday after Klopp revealed that he does not expect the club to complete any business before the transfer window shuts.
As well as a leakier defence than usual, Liverpool have been misfiring in attack, too, with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane all suffering from a drop in form at the same time.
Salah, though, did score two in the defeat against Man Utd.