Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed defender Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury, after the Cameroonian sat out the 3-1 victory over West Ham on Sunday.
After a window of insisting that there would be no major incoming business, Matip's absence sparked a deadline day frenzy that ended with the Reds recruiting Ben Davies from Preston and Ozan Kabak from Schalke.
Many had questioned the reasoning behind the sudden change of tact, but minutes after the latter of those two deals was confirmed, the club released an update that perhaps explains their last-minute rush into the transfer market.
A club statement quotes Klopp as saying: “Unfortunately, we found out now after everybody looked at it that Joel will be out for the rest of the season.
“But he will be ready for the start of the next pre-season and finally everything will be sorted.”
Matip joins fellow centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the long-term injury list, while makeshift defender Fabinho is expected to miss the upcoming clash with Brighton. Davies and Kabak, then, may have to learn on their feet, with the inexperienced Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips the only other central defenders available.
It was a last-gasp challenge to deny Son Heung-min in the 3-1 victory over Spurs that ultimately caused Matip's injury, and Klopp added: “It was really unlucky because it was a brilliant challenge he made actually, he saved our life in that moment in the Tottenham game when he won the challenge against Son.
“But he injured his ankle and played the game on and now is out for the season, so you can imagine how much he tried to stay on the pitch and tried to help us.
“We will wait for him. He has now the rest of this season, then the summer, then the pre-season to get ready again and he will be ready again.”