Liverpool do not currently have the intention of signing a new centre-back in the January transfer window, although the Reds aren’t ruling it out and could yet bring forward summer plans.
First-choice pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez both suffered serious knee injuries within a few weeks of each other and could both miss most of the rest of the season, while Joel Matip has had a patchy fitness record in recent years.
Emergency stand-in Fabinho has also been injured in 2020/21, and although the Brazilian is expected back after the international break, any further setbacks for Matip would leave Liverpool with only two recognised centre-backs in the first-team squad: Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams, who both have precious little senior experience.
According to David Ornstein of The Athletic, Liverpool’s recruitment plans remain fully geared towards the summer as things stand. It is said that will not change even if results deteriorate, which has been billed as a joint decision between Jurgen Klopp and the Anfield hierarchy.
However, Ornstein also suggests that it is not completely off the table to dip into the market in January, six months earlier than planned, if an opportunity presents itself. But it is said the short-term focus is on internal solutions, which implies developing Phillips and Williams.
90min previously revealed in late October that signing a centre-back in January has not been ruled out and that Klopp has been told by senior officials they are prepared to bring someone in if it makes financial sense, giving the club the flexibility to adapt their stance as circumstances change and evolve.
Liverpool see the situation as an opportunity to plan for a long-term future without Van Dijk, who will be 30 by the start of next season. Any recruitment would focus on a young defender, but the Reds won’t spend big.
It has been Liverpool’s intention to ultimately bring in another centre-back since Dejan Lovren was sold to Zenit St Petersburg in July and scouts have been tracking Schalke's Ozan Kabak, Villarreal's Pau Torres, Shakhtar Donetsk's Mykola Matvienko, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano since then.
Whether that will be in January or summer will depend on the next six weeks. It isn’t out of the question to happen sooner rather than later, but waiting is the preferred strategy.