Can Liverpool risk not buying a midfielder as Thiago joins Jurgen Klopp’s injury list?

Thiago Alcantara's hamstring injury has left Liverpool with just five fit senior midfield options

“I don’t understand,” Jurgen Klopp told reporters after Liverpool arrived in Bangkok on their pre-season tour.

“People have spoken to me about this discussion but the last thing on my mind is that we have to sign another midfielder.

‘We can get through it. Where do you want to start? So Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago, Milner, Keita, Jones, Elliott, Carvalho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, now tell me what kind of player are we missing?’

There is no doubt that the Liverpool manager has remained firm in his stance that the Reds do not need to sign a midfielder this summer.

Thiago Alcantara’s hamstring injury has left Liverpool with just five fit senior midfield options

Jurgen Klopp has insisted throughout the summer that the Reds do not need to bring in any additional midfielders

Jurgen Klopp has insisted throughout the summer that the Reds do not need to bring in any additional midfielders

The injury crisis is likely to provide opportunities for Harvey Elliott, who has signed a new deal

The injury crisis is likely to provide opportunities for Harvey Elliott, who has signed a new deal

However, after a disappointing 2-2 draw with Fulham on the opening day and the injury pile-up, the debate has only intensified with Klopp having just five midfielders in senior form to call upon and deal with the pressure to dive into the transfer market.

The sight of Thiago Alcantara limping off in the second half at Craven Cottage is what Liverpool fans were dreading. It was later announced that the Spaniard will miss six weeks with a hamstring strain.

Coupled with Curtis Jones’ calf injury and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s hamstring injury, Klopp’s midfield stocks are extremely depleted.

There are serious questions about whether the German can afford to stick to his principles that he doesn’t need to add more depth in midfield.

The noise continues to grow that Liverpool have come up short ahead of another grueling campaign.

Klopp’s senior midfield options are now Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner, Keita and Harvey Elliott. Fabio Carvalho is potentially an alternative, but Klopp sees him as more of an attacking player, as evidenced by the Portugal Under-21 international replacing Luis Diaz later at Craven Cottage.

The loss of Thiago is significant with the Spaniard immense when he was in form last season and was rightly named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Henderson will need to step up even further in his absence but, now 32, the former Sunderland man may be slightly past his prime. Similarly, Milner’s durability continues to amaze, but it’s a tough ask to trust someone who will be 37 this campaign.

Keita, who missed the Fulham clash with illness but is expected to return for Monday’s game against Crystal Palace, has flattered to deceive while at Anfield and struggled for consistency and fitness.

Curtis Jones is currently out with a calf injury

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also has a hamstring injury

Both Curtis Jones (calf) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) are currently injured.

Jordan Henderson struggled on Saturday and will have to step up in Thiago's absence

Jordan Henderson struggled on Saturday and will have to step up in Thiago’s absence

Elliott, who signed a new long-term deal on Thursday, is a hugely exciting prospect at 19 and continues to impress but, like Milner, it is very difficult to trust a midfielder early or late in his career.

Despite Saturday’s poor performance, Fabinho has immense quality and the Brazilian is the only option of the five who could arguably be seen as the peak of his career.

The pressure is on after Saturday, which already looks disastrous after Man City looked so impressive against West Ham.

It was a draw like this that cost the Reds last season and saw them miss out on the title by just one point.

The Reds struggled after the starting midfielder performed so poorly, with Fabinho, Thiago and Henderson losing possession 22 times on Saturday and Fabinho coming on less than an hour later.

The Reds hope Naby Keita will return for the Crystal Palace game after he missed Saturday’s clash

There is also a strong case that a new midfielder is needed not just because of injuries, but as part of Liverpool’s succession planning.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Milner are out of contract at the end of the season, with the pair set to leave, while Keita is yet to extend his deal which also expires next summer.

The prospect of losing three midfielders at once is far from ideal and pushes the case for the Reds to add an option this summer and then their preferred target, Jude Bellingham, next year.

The Bellingham angle is an interesting one as it has been widely reported that the Reds will not be moving for a midfielder this year due to the expectation that the Borussia Dortmund star will be available in 2023.

Liverpool are favorites to sign the England midfielder next summer, but any potential move in this window was always unlikely due to Dortmund already missing out on Erling Haaland.

Klopp will have to juggle his midfield options ahead of a grueling pre-World Cup

Klopp will have to juggle his midfield options ahead of a grueling pre-World Cup

But interest in Bellingham and Aurelien Tchouameni, the latter of whom signed for Real Madrid after the Reds fell short, shows there is an acknowledgment of the need to bring in a midfielder.

And while it is expected exactly who wanted has worked at the club before with Virgil van Dijk and Alisson the most prominent examples, the rest of the options, together with the very intense start of the season before the World Cup, poses the risk of not adding up. someone is tall

Tyler Morton and Leighton Clarkson, two of Anfield’s most promising young midfielders, are also on loan this season at Blackburn Rovers and Aberdeen respectively.

While this is arguably best for his long-term development, having both youngsters available would complement Klopp’s limited options right now.

Stefan Bajcetic impressed in pre-season and featured on the bench on Saturday after being rewarded with a new long-term contract.

But at just 17, it’s a big step up in competitive Premier League fixtures.

Summer signing Calvin Ramsay can also play in midfield, but a 19-year-old right-back out of position is not the best option for a side with quadruple aspirations.

However, it can be argued that this injury crisis is what a squad is for and that eight midfield options when everything is fit is excessive.

Also easy to forget for all of Thiago’s undoubted class, the playmaker has dealt with injuries at the club before – the Spaniard played just 25 of 38 league games last season.

Liverpool are reportedly resisting a move for Jude Bellingham next summer

Similarly, Oxlade-Chamberlain barely featured in 2021-22, making his last league appearance in February, despite being fit for the season-ending clash when he failed to regularly get the template of the day.

Elliott and Carvalho also now have a perfect opportunity to develop and contribute and a new midfielder could stunt their development.

In the back of Klopp’s mind may also be the time when the Reds had an even worse injury crisis, this time in defence, and panic bought Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak in January 2021.

And the German, speaking after Saturday’s game, reaffirmed the big picture when signings are being made.

He said: ‘Look, a move has to make sense now and in the long term; we have eight midfielders, we still have enough midfielders.

Thiago has been outstanding since joining the Reds in 2020 but has struggled with injuries at Anfield

Thiago has been outstanding since joining the Reds in 2020 but has struggled with injuries at Anfield

“It’s not that we lack midfielders, but that some of them are injured.

‘And I know, part of the football business is not getting nervous. We are not. But this is not a good situation, I don’t like it at all.

“We have to see how we react to this, but for sure, no panic.”

The lack of midfielders may also give Klopp the opportunity to be more adaptable.

The 4-2-3-1 formation has been tried and tested on occasion and to ease the pressure on their depleted stocks is something the Reds could play again.

This could suit players like Roberto Firmino, Elliot and especially Carvalho.

The former Fulham youngster excelled in that role last season with 18 goal contributions as the Cottagers clinched the Championship title.

Klopp's side were interested in Aurelien Tchouameni before he joined Real Madrid this summer

Klopp’s side were interested in Aurelien Tchouameni before he joined Real Madrid this summer

However, there is no doubt that the severely depleted midfield options at Klopp’s disposal are extremely worrying.

As the Reds face a grueling schedule that will see them play 16 Premier League games, six Champions League group games and one Carabao Cup game in just three months before the World Cup, there there are strong arguments to argue that Klopp is taking a huge risk. by not signing anyone.

But the German has more than enough credit in the bank and hopes his remaining options will fill the void, while desperately encouraging his medical team to help injured players recover as quickly as possible.

The Liverpool manager will have to live with his decision, although he risks the Reds falling behind in the title race.

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