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big call Liverpool could now change their approach to signing central defenders - John Aldridge

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (Phil Noble/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (Phil Noble/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (Phil Noble/PA)

Liverpool were expected to sign two central defenders in this summer's transfer window, but that approach could be changed after the emergence of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.

That's the verdict of Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge, who believes Phillips, in particular, has proved himself to be a worthy contenders to be part of the club's long-term plans.

After a season that saw Liverpool's defensive line decimated by injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, a move for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konte was expected to the first of two defensive signings by Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

Yet Aldridge now suspects the club's owners may feel they can save some of their limited transfer kitty by signing just one central defender, which may be bad news for on loan Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak.

"There has been a feeling for some time now that they would sign two central defenders this summer, but I suspect they are looking at things differently right now," Aldridge told us.

"Nat Phillips was outstanding in the win against Manchester United on Thursday night and I'm sure Klopp is looking at the way he is developing and thinking he could be developed into a top defender.

"There is a feeling that Konate will come in from Leipzig, so the decision will be whether they need to sign a second defender or look at a line-up of Van Dijk, Gomez, Matip, Phillips and Williams and think that is enough."

Aldridge adds a note of caution to his comments, as he suggests signing Ozan Kabak on a permanent deal may be the more sensible option after Liverpool's season was derailed by a defensive crisis.

"For me, I would look to off-load Joel Matip this summer," added Aldo. "He has been fantastic for Liverpool over the last few years, but he can't play more than two or three games in a row without getting injured.

"The same problem has been there for Gomez, who is injury prone and that has to be taken into consideration when Liverpool make their decision on defensive signings this summer.

"I don't think they can rely on Gomez and Matip to be fit for a full season, so signing Kabak would be the right way to go as they can't leave themselves so short at the back again."

Klopp has admitted his transfer kitty will be limited this summer, with qualification for next season's Champions League potentially crucial in his hopes of adding to his squad.

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We understand that Klopp has been impressed by Kabak, with a final decision on whether to sign the Turkish defender set to be made after next weekend's final Premier League game against Crystal Palace.

"Not playing Champions League doesn’t help obviously, but it’s not our biggest problem. The market will be really strange," said Klopp.

"I hear about really big money moves… is Kylian Mbappe going? Haaland? Sancho? I don’t see that happening a lot this summer because the football world is still not in the same place it was before.

"We will see how the market will develop but for sure it won’t be an early market.

"It’s not good if you don’t go to the Champions League, but there is still a chance and while there is a chance we should not speak about it as no chance."

Qualifying for the Champions League could be worth up to £100million to Liverpool and that could now be crucial in Klopp's efforts to bring both Konate and Kabak for next season.

Read John Aldridge's exclusive column on Liverpool's top four battle in this weekend's Sunday World.

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