Discussion over whether Liverpool will sign a new centre-back in January is bound to dominate the club while the transfer window remains open.
Jurgen Klopp has done an excellent job in dealing with the Reds' defensive injury crisis this season, suitably repurposing Fabinho into a central defensive role as the club bid to defend their Premier League crown.
But the makeshift option is sorely missed at the base of midfield, and with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk both expected to be out for the majority of the season, rumours regarding the arrival of a new central defender are understandably rife.
Plenty of players have been touted as potential arrivals, and Danny Murphy has now offered his verdict on five reported targets.
While writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Murphy ran the rule over Dayot Upamecano, David Alaba, Sergio Ramos, Antonio Rudiger and Conor Coady before eventually concluding that it would be a risk for the club not to sign a new central defender this month.
"I like David Alaba at Bayern Munich and my old Liverpool team-mate Didi Hamann sings his praises. The question is whether he'd prefer a move to Spain rather than England.
"Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano is a proper player but his team have drawn Liverpool in the Champions League.
"We all know Sergio Ramos's history with Liverpool, while Chelsea won't want to sell Antonio Rudiger to a rival. Conor Coady at Wolves is more used to playing in a back five, so I do see the problem in finding the right centre-half."
Murphy rather cryptically went on to suggest that the club may be wise to sign a hidden gem rather than any of the aforementioned high profile players: "I'd suggest their scouts and transfer team scour the football world for a centre-back who can help them cope with injuries."
GIVEMESPORT's Jack Saville says...
With Alaba's contract now less than six months away from expiring at Bayern Munich, Michael Edwards will surely be enticed by the prospect of signing him on a Bosman free transfer in the summer though a report from Marca suggests the Austria international has agreed to join Real Madrid.
But Liverpool need a solution here and now if they want to successfully defend their Premier League title.
All of the aforementioned options cited by Murphy have pedigree and the potential to thrive at Anfield, but equally they are rather unrealistic for a multitude of reasons - many of which are outlined by the former Liverpool midfielder.
Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips have both been solid without setting the world alight since stepping into the senior fold, but there have been snippets of evidence to suggest their weaknesses could be exploited when the pressure inevitably mounts during the business end of the season.
Liverpool's failure to sign a new defensive option before the January deadline may well give their closest title rivals a decisive edge in the final months of the season.News Now - Sport News