Exclusive Liverpool must sign a centre-back in the transfer window or kiss goodbye to their Premier League crown
Word has been coming out of Anfield suggesting Liverpool are not looking to sign anyone next month, but it has to be a smokescreen because they simply have to sign a centre-half if they are serious about retaining the Premier League title.
Joel Matip's injury in Sunday's 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion confirmed what we have all appreciated for some time now - Liverpool have to spend money on a good quality defender.
I like Matip, and if he could be relied upon to play the majority of games in the second-half of the season, manager Jurgen Klopp might be able to get through to next summer with the current squad.
Yet, the reality facing Liverpool heading into Wednesday's game at Newcastle is pretty stark - they have one senior centre-back to call upon and he is a midfielder, Fabinho.
The injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have ripped a hole in Liverpool's defensive line and with Matip clearly struggling with his fitness, Liverpool are horribly short at the centre of their defence.
Fabinho has been brilliant filling in at centre-back, but the suggestion that captain Jordan Henderson or Gini Wijnaldum can play in there is nonsense.
Liverpool need three of their best midfielders to play in the position they are meant to be in, and while Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have done well at centre-back, playing youngsters in such a vital position is a recipe for disaster.
Against the top sides in the Champions League, youngsters are liable to found out - and that could also be the case in the Premier League.
We saw some naivety from Liverpool's young players as they handed West Brom a corner and conceded late on against Sam Allardyce's side and we can expect more of the same unless a defender arrives next month.
Rival managers will target the right side of Liverpool's defence, try and get in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold when he bombs forward and look to attack an inexperienced centre-back.
We have seen more and more teams follow the blueprint in recent weeks and it will continue unless new additions arrive to solve the problem.
Liverpool's transfer committee, and especially recruiter-in-chief Michael Edwards, has done a magnificent job of identifying the right players in recent years and now they need to pull another rabbit out of the hat.
It's not easy to sign top players in January, but Liverpool pulled off major coups when they got Luis Suarez and Virgil van Dijk mid-way through previous seasons and it shows what is possible.
I don't know what players may be available in this transfer window, but the Premier League title is on the line here and Liverpool have to do all they can to back Klopp and give him the best chance to clinch it.
All of the sides at the top of the table have been dropping points in recent weeks, so Liverpool have a real chance to draw level with Manchester United and clinch a 20th domestic league title in May.
Beating Newcastle at St James's Park would ensure Liverpool head into 2021 at the top of the table, but we can all see the storm clouds gathering over Anfield.
The performance against West Brom on Sunday was well below par, and while I'm no fan of the tactics Sam Allardyce deploys in a bid to ruin football matches, they got what they deserved out of the game.
West Brom's 6-4-0 attacking formation made for a horrible spectacle and Klopp was relying on one of his superstars to come up with a moment of magic to win the game.
In the end, Liverpool ran out of ideas and on days like that you need a solid defence to stand firm and find a way to keep a clean sheet.
Unfortunately, Klopp doesn't have that security at this moment and that is why I am urging Liverpool to take the problem on and find a solution.
Van Dijk and Gomez will be back next season, but the here and now is all-important for Klopp and he needs to be given at least one quality centre-back to boost his options.
This really could be Liverpool's time to dominate the Premier League for years to come, as they are led by the best manager in the game and have some world-class performers in their line-up.
That's why it is more important than ever for the club to flex their muscle in the transfer market and protect their position at the top of the Premier League.
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