With the transfer deadline day now just two days away, most supporters believe Liverpool are still short (at least) one central defender.
For all the talk of a major squad rebuild this summer, the past few weeks have been quiet to say the least.
The Reds have made a trio of midfield acquisitions in Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo, but have let as many as seven midfielders exit out the other door – including the influential trio of captain Jordan Henderson, vice-captain James Milner and Liverpool’s ‘lighthouse’ Fabinho.
However, at least there have been midfield arrivals. The defence, by contrast, remains unchanged since last season.
Even before the club’s transition to a 3-box-3 system, which requires added responsibilities of the centre-backs, Liverpool were in need of defensive reinforcements. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate have all had more than their fair share of injuries (Konate is injured at the time of writing), and there has also been questions marks over whether the Reds even have the right personnel for this new formation.
It’s clear Liverpool need a centre-back, with the club supposedly still shopping for a younger, left-sided option.
READ MORE: Why Liverpool simply must sign a new defender this summer
Who could still arrive before the window closes? Here are four of the most reported on targets ranked by likelihood of a deal happening.
There was a time this summer when fans were adamant the club should absolutely be targeting Sporting’s highly-rated defender Inacio. The left-sided centre-back was a stand-out performer amongst his peers in a plethora of attributes last season.
He ranked in the 99th percentile for passes completed, progressive passes and shot-creating actions, as well as being in the 97th and 96th percentile respectively for progressive carries and successful take-ons when compared to other centre-halves in the top eight leagues.
However, the 21-year-old officially penned a new deal with the Portuguese club on 17 August, meaning his previous release clause of £38.5 million rose to a reported £42.7m.
While this small rise doesn’t price Liverpool out of a move, the fact that he has just signed a new contract makes a transfer incredibly unlikely.
Transfer rating: 2/10
© Proshots – Perr Schuurs
Next up, Schuurs is another name that has been consistently linked with Liverpool over the summer, after coming off the back of a stellar season with Torino in Serie A.
The Dutchman was reportedly left unsettled after hearing his names linked with a move to the Reds, but he would not come cheap.
It was reported last month that Torino would be reluctant to sell the 23-year-old this summer and would only accept an offer in the region of €40m (£34m) to part ways with the defender.
With Liverpool reluctant to meet the valuation for the right-footed Schuurs back in July, the chances of a deal happening in the final days of the transfer window are slim at best, with Torino likely to bump up the price even further as the desperation of Deadline Day kicks in.
However, with the news of Konate’s injury and Virgil van Dijk’s suspension, Liverpool bosses may be forced into paying over the odds for a problem that could have been addressed earlier for a cheaper price.
Transfer rating: 3/10
© Proshots – Arthur Theate
READ MORE: Who is Liverpool-linked defender Arthur Theate?
Stade Rennais defender Theate is a highly-rated young centre-half who has been linked with a plethora of clubs this summer, including Liverpool, RB Leipzig and Fulham.
Despite only joining his current club for €20m (£17.1m) last summer – making the 23-year-old the most expensive Belgian defender of all time – the French club could be set to lose their key defender in the final days of the transfer window.
A report by L’Equipe stated that Rennais have shortlisted Liverpool’s very own Joel Matip as a possible replacement for Theate if he were to leave before the deadline on Friday.
While this may only be a contingency plan, it’s certainly a positive sign that a deal could be struck for the centre-half.
However, if Jurgen Klopp does have Theate in his sights, he will likely be hoping that it won’t take Matip’s exit to secure him. The 32-year-old former Cameroon international may be in the final year of his contract at Liverpool, but letting him leave to facilitate Theate would be counter-productive to say the least – it would be one in and one out for a position where the Reds are already short of bodies.
Transfer rating: 5/10
© Proshots – Piero Hincapie and Xabi Alonso, Bayer Leverkusen
Perhaps the most obvious fit for Liverpool’s defensive issues, Bayer Leverkusen’s Hincapie is a name that has been discussed by the Liverpool hierarchy.
The promising 21-year-old is a versatile centre-back, who can competently play as a left-back, and while he is currently injured with a broken metatarsal, he is expected to return just after the September international break.
Liverpool have been linked with the Ecuadorian in recent weeks, but they’re not the only club. His attributes are sought after and have attracted the attention of many clubs across Europe, including Newcastle and Tottenham.
The only downside is that, much like others on this list, Leverkusen do not want to lose their key defender (especially so close to deadline day), despite expecting that a move to a top-six Premier League side would be very likely next summer.
Anfield Watch was told last week that it would take around €50m (£42m) to begin negotiations with Leverkusen, while a departure next summer would be preferred by head coach Xabi Alonso.
However, Liverpool’s desperation for a centre-back and £115m in the club’s pockets could change some minds.
Transfer rating: 5.5/10