Liverpool have a difficult decision to make in January after resigning themselves to losing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to international duty during a crucial part of the season. But Jurgen Klopp will know that from last season, the club cannot afford to put off making their move in the transfer market.
The Reds were in the midst of a defensive crisis when central defensive trio Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez were all ruled out with long-term injuries.
That left Klopp with only Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams to deputise as centre-backs, with Fabinho slotting in when he was fit.
The club’s recruitment team put together a list of targets to try and sign in January, but it took them until transfer deadline day before they signed Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke and Ben Davies from Preston.
Kabak featured regularly in the side but the Merseyside outfit opted not to make the move permanent, while Davies is yet to make a Premier League appearance.
Both signings felt like a knee-jerk decision at the time as the club quickly ran out of options and learnt their lesson by snapping up Ibrahima Konate in the summer for £35m.
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Klopp has previously blasted the regulations but admits the club are powerless in their efforts to stop the players going, and vowed to find a way to cope with their temporary absences.
“We knew it (Salah and Mane’s absences), we have to deal with it and we will deal with it. How? We will see in January,” said the manager.
“People now say we have to sign two strikers with the same quality of Sadio and Mo.
“That cannot be a solution as we cannot do that, so we have to find a solution for that in January.”
Salah has already scored 15 goals this season while Mane has notched eight, highlighting the massive blow it will serve to Klopp and his side in losing their goals for an entire month.
Klopp must be prepared for their departure with a contingency plan— and that could mean fast-tracking his plans to sign Rennes winger Jeremy Doku.
The 19-year-old has starred at the club level for the Ligue 1 outfit as well as making his senior debut for Belgium last year.
Doku is a rapid winger with bags of ability on the ball and would provide exactly the kind of potential that Klopp would be interested in signing, given that Salah and Mane both turn 30 next year.
Of course, talent of his kind does not come cheap and Rennes would like demand upwards of £30million for the teenager, who cost 322m to sign from Anderlecht.
According to RTL Sport, Liverpool are leading the chase for Doku and are ‘best placed’ to make a move in January. https://twitter.com/ABraeckman/status/1447573132030713858?s=20
If Liverpool are not willing to dip into the transfer market, it leaves Klopp short of viable options in his frontline.
Assuming that Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota stay fit, there is still one place in attack to fill — and it may not be as simple as bringing Divock Origi or Takumi Minamino into the starting lineup.
The out-of-favour duo failed to secure permanent switches away from the club in the summer and have barely featured since.
They will be short of match fitness and, quite clearly, are not on the same level as Salah and Mane.
Asking them to come into the side and play five or six matches seems unrealistic, especially in the one of the busiest periods of the season.
Origi has featured for only two minutes of Premier League action, while Minamino’s only start came in the Carabao Cup against Norwich.
Klopp and outgoing recruitment chief Michael Edwards will know that getting this decision right could be crucial in their bid to regain the Premier League crown.
But timing will be key if they are to land Doku or another target — leaving it until deadline day in January simply is not an option this time around.