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It is “inconceivable” that Liverpool will not sign a new central defender in January, says Jamie Carragher.
The hugely influential Virgil van Dijk is expected to miss much of the season after suffering a knee injury against Everton in October.
Joe Gomez picked up a knee problem of his own on England duty the following month and is also expected to miss the majority of the campaign.
Midfielder Fabinho has successfully operated as a stand-in centre-back but Joel Matip alongside him has struggled with a number of niggling injuries, leaving youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips as the only other centre-back options.
Despite all of those set-backs the Merseysiders begin 2021 with a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League. Carragher, however, believes they risk slipping back down the table if they don’t bring in reinforcements.
“Jurgen Klopp will be cursing a missed opportunity if Liverpool do not retain their title,” the former Reds defender told the Telegraph. “Liverpool are the best team in England, but circumstances have opened the door for everyone with dreams of catching them.
“I felt at the start of the season that the only thing that could stop Liverpool was injuries. In August, my fear was that a setback for one of the front three might see them fall back into the pack. The club addressed that with the signing of Diogo Jota. Now my concern is focused on their defensive issues.
"The injury to Virgil Van Dijk alone will cost Liverpool between nine and 12 points over the course of this season. Although Fabinho has proved a fantastic deputy at the back, Joel Matip’s ongoing problems means, to me at least, that it is inconceivable that Liverpool will not sign another centre-half at the earliest opportunity.
"I cannot understand the logic of not doing so. The club needed one anyway.
“If Matip continues to be in and out of the side, and then Fabinho gets injured, how can Liverpool expect to perform at the highest level with only the inexperienced Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips to step in? That is too big a risk.