Liverpool's Shortlisted Centre-Back Options for January - Ranked

Oct 26, 2020, 3:30 PM GMT
Mykola Matviyenko
Mykola Matviyenko is the least well known name on Liverpool's shortlist | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
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So Liverpool need a centre-back. Virgil van Dijk is facing a season on the sidelines, Joel Matip's injury record is unreliable, and there is only so many minutes in a season that Fabinho can play.

90min understand that the Anfield hierarchy have informed Jurgen Klopp that they are prepared to pull the trigger on a new central defender in the January transfer window in order to bolster his squad for another tilt at the title.

A number of names have been mentioned, with the Reds looking for younger defenders with long-term potential, but with proven experience at a high level.

Here are five of the options Liverpool on the shortlist - ranked.

5. Mykola Matviyenko

Mykola Matviyenko
Matviyenko impressed against Manchester City last season | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Age: 24
Club: Shakhtar Donetsk
Nationality: Ukrainian

Matviyenko is a name who cropped up in the summer when Liverpool were looking for a new left-sided defender, and the Ukrainian has also attracted interest from Arsenal in recent months.

The advantages he brings are obvious. He's versatile, capable of covering the entire back line and in defensive midfield, while he would bring some symmetry to the heart of defence, where Liverpool's options are all right-footed.

While the 24-year-old is not the most commanding centre-back, his strengths lie in communication, reading of the game and distribution - all of which will be major plus points at Anfield.

The Crimean-born star also has valuable Champions League and international experience.

4. Ozan Kabak

Ozan Kabak
Kabak has been frequently linked with Liverpool | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Age: 20
Club: Schalke 04
Nationality: Turkish

Discipline is a major issue for Ozan Kabak, who is currently suspended for spitting at an opponent in a Bundesliga match.

The 20-year-old, however, is just 20, so there is plenty of time for the unsavoury aspects of his game and personality to be ironed out. A quick, aggressive central defender with seemingly limitless potential, he looks the real deal other than that.

One concern for Liverpool might be that he will require an adjustment period, given his age and relative inexperience - more or less defeating the purpose of bringing him in for initial short-term cover.

3. Jules Koundé

Jules Kounde
Kounde has been sporting some dreadlocks this season | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Age: 21
Club: Sevilla
Nationality: French

Jules Koundé's nickname is 'Cafu' because of his exceptional ability to drive the ball forward from defence. Do you need to know more?

He hates losing so much he once saw a psychiatrist for it, his Twitter indicates he's a bloody nice guy, and despite standing at just shy of 6ft, he has won 80% of his aerial duels since the beginning of last season - one of the best records in La Liga over that period.

He's played more than 100 senior games for Bordeaux and Sevilla despite being just 21, and was a target for Manchester City in the summer before they decided on Ruben Dias.

He'd be a great signing but his release clause is north of €75m and may be out of reach in January.

2. Pau Torres

Pau Torres
Torres has seven caps for Spain | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Age: 23
Club: Villarreal
Nationality: Spanish

Everyone wants Pau Torres. The centre back is one of Spain's most exciting young defenders since Gerard Piqué emerged on the scene, and it seems like just a matter of time before he gets an Aymeric Laporte-esque move to one of Europe's biggest clubs.

He's been a regular for Villarreal since returning from a successful loan spell with Malaga, and at around £35m, he's affordable for Liverpool.

Torres is pretty much an all round central defender. He's a good passer, he's strong in the air, and he's quick enough to keep pace with most attackers, and has all the makings of a long-term partner and eventual replacement for Van Dijk.

1. Dayot Upamecano

Dayot Upamecano
Upamecano tackling the ball into the back of the Hertha Berlin net | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Age: 21
Club: RB Leipzig
Nationality: French

Just like Van Dijk, Upamecano is a cheat code of a defender. He's one of the few on the planet who can come close to matching the big Dutchman across all metrics, and he only turns 22 this week.

He'd need to slightly adjust his game to fit in at Anfield. At Leipzig, he is asked to go after the ball aggressively, while Liverpool prefer their centre-backs to stand off and keep pace with attackers once the midfield line is broken - as indicated by the relatively low amount of tackles attempted by Van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

That wouldn't be a problem for Upamecano, however, who is as quick and perceptive as they come. Along with Matthijs de Ligt, he's probably going to be one of the best central defenders in the world for the next decade, and although his €40m release clause doesn't come into play until the summer, Leipzig may just be willing to sell now, so as not to lose him for such a low fee when the window reopens.

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