Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool are unlikely to replace Joël Matip with a January transfer because “top, top, top centre-halves” will be unavailable and it would stifle the development of his defenders.
The Liverpool manager believes his squad can withstand the loss of Matip, who sustained a cruciate ligament injury against Fulham on Sunday, providing Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konaté, Joe Gomez and Jarell Quansah remain fit. The 20-year-old Quansah is enjoying a breakthrough season and Klopp is reluctant to block the pathway of any gifted young player.
“Everyone talks about us needing another player but they all cost money and they must be the right player,” he said. “You tell me a club who wants to sell a top, top, top centre-half. Not a centre-half but a top centre-half because they have to play for Liverpool. So why should we start that process?
“For four or five days we’ve known Joël will be out for a long time and that’s really bad for us but we still have four centre-halves and that’s absolutely all right. If we had a fifth centre-half in beforehand it is a completely different team dynamic: when one is not involved we don’t see steps with him.
“Is it now perfect? I would say it is as long as we can go with them four. If not, then it would be more tricky with the amount of games coming up. But it was never wonderland where you bring in a world-class centre-half until the other one is fit again. As long as other clubs don’t put them under the Christmas tree for us and say: ‘Take him as long as you need him.’ I didn’t really think about it yet as it’s only been five days since that problem. I don’t think so.”
Matip is not expected to play again this season. The 32-year-old’s contract expires next summer, raising the possibility that he may have played his final game for Liverpool. Klopp, however, has not ruled out Matip being offered a contract extension.
“I would say so but it’s not my decision in the end – I cannot sign the papers,” he said. “I am pretty sure the club will show their class, just how they should do it. I am pretty sure the club told Joël already that whatever happens as long as he is injured everything is fine. Then we have to make a decision together with Joël how it looks after that. He deserves all the support from us and he will get it.