Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has admitted that the club are working hard to sign a new defender before the transfer window slams shut on 31 August, after an abject defensive display saw them fail to beat Watford on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.
Liverpool have been tipped as potential title contenders this season, but the three goals they conceded to Watford in Saturday’s 3-3 draw all came as a result of defensive mishaps. Two were from Jose Holebas corners, while Abdoulaye Doucouré took advantage of some slack marking before firing home from close range
The club have been persistently linked with Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk this summer, with the Southampton defender submitting a written transfer request to Mauricio Pellegrino ahead of the new season, and Klopp has admitted that the Liverpool board are “in talks” over strengthening their squad.
“We are still working on all parts,” Klopp said. “We are in talks and we work on all parts of the game. The squad at the moment is not too wide for a lot of games. That’s it.”
It was a case of brand new season but same old problems for Liverpool, as the club’s much discussed defensive frailties once again proved their undoing. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip’s slack man-marking was repeatedly punished, while Alberto Moreno and Trent Alexander-Arnold both struggled down the flanks.
Klopp acknowledged that Liverpool’s defending was not up to scratch, although also stressed that the club will not be able to solve all of their problems in the transfer market.
“We have to defend better,” he admitted. “Of course we know it’s an important thing. I don’t feel comfortable but I know what to do.
“We got things wrong and what do I want to do to sort it? Buy a new player in that position? I am not really sure if it makes sense. We have to work on it because we did well in pre-season in this situation.”
The former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher appears to agree with that assessment, and he claimed after Liverpool’s draw that even signing Van Dijk from Southampton wouldn’t be enough to immediately rectify the problems with the club’s back line.
Watford vs Liverpool player ratings
“It’s down to the manager and one man won’t change Liverpool’s defence – on average they concede almost fifty goals a season,” he said on Sky Sports.
“Their set-pieces are the worst in the league. You see the same thing year in, year out. It’s not rocket science, set-pieces and counter-attacks.”
But when Carragher’s comments were put to him after the match, Klopp insisted that defending set-pieces was not a glaring problem for his side.
“We defend most of them well,” he added. “We prepare for the games and I knew the formation of Watford – a very defensive formation – and we still allowed them two free headers. That will always happen. Of course it’s about positioning – do the right thing in the right moment on the right position.”