Liverpool set stance on £70m January bid for Kalidou Koulibaly amid Virgil van Dijk injury
Liverpool have ruled out a £70million move to sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli in the January transfer window, according to reports. The Reds are set to be without Virgil van Dijk until next season after the injured Dutchman underwent surgery on the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee this week.
Van Dijk has been joined on the sidelines by Joel Matip and Fabinho, who both have niggles that will keep them out of today’s Premier League clash with West Ham (5.30pm kick-off).
Even when Matip returns to fitness, Jurgen Klopp’s only other natural centre-half option is Joe Gomez although Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson – like Fabinho – can drop into central defence.
But 90min say the Premier League champions will consider a January move to sign a new defender to bolster their ranks at the back and help prevent Klopp relying on midfielders to play in defence.
Yet Koulibaly – perhaps the best centre-back Liverpool could look to bring in in the winter window – is not on their radar.
The Merseyside club have decided they will not spend as much as £70m, or more, on the 29-year-old because they want a younger, longer term option.
Despite Manchester United and Manchester City-linked Koulibaly being an elite and highly experienced defender, Liverpool do not want to fork out the kind of fee Napoli would demand for his talents.
The cheaper alternatives who Liverpool like the look of include Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matvienko, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, the report claims.
Liverpool’s hierarchy would prefer not to spend over £40m in January and face the problem of recruiting a new defender who knows he will face a battle for game time once Van Dijk is fit again.
Gomez has impressed since Van Dijk limped off against Everton while Matip is also a top-level performer, though his durability has come into question during his time at the club.
And a player of Upamecano’s quality may instead prefer a move to United where he would be better guaranteed starting minutes week-in, week-out beyond this season.
Van Dijk and Gomez developed a solid partnership over the past couple of seasons and with the latter still only 23 and under contract until June 2024, the England international remains a first choice option for Liverpool for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile discussing Van Dijk’s road to recovery, Klopp said on Friday: “What I can tell you, after a surgery – and it was successful, which is really good, the best news you can get – is that this time is always unpleasant. Everybody who had a surgery knows that.
“You don’t wake up and everything is fine, you feel still the surgery. He’s good, he’s as good as you can be. That’s it.”
Asked what Liverpool will do to help Van Dijk throughout his rehabilitation, he added: “Everything. Easy answer. Absolutely everything.
“It’s all individual, it’s all personal what this person needs or this person needs, but we do absolutely everything. We did always and we will do this time, 100 per cent.
“He’s a quick healer and he’s a pain-coper, so that’s all clear. All these things, yes, they help.”
And the Liverpool manager admits despite the situation, he is looking forward to the challenge of trying to cope in the absence of his talismanic defender.
Klopp said: “Problems are only there to find solutions for. And yes, the solutions I’m excited about them, that’s true.
“I see the challenge in the situation, yes. I see there’s an opportunity, yes. That’s all true. But still we play football games every three days, so this will stay a challenge.
“But I’m fine, we are fine, we deal with the situation and we will make the best of it, that’s the plan.”