Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists he is not interested in bringing in “squad players” this window amid rumours that the Anfield club are courting Nigel de Jong and Romulo.
Rodgers told talkSPORT that he would rather give opportunities to some of his youngsters instead of bringing in players who are going to be on the fringe of the first team, per Carl Markham of The Independent:
January is a very difficult market. It is hard to bring in players that can improve the team, especially in this window.
This is a brilliant club and we try to get players in for the now, we need players who can come in now and help us.
I'd rather wait and look at our young players than bring in one or two squad players.
But looking at Liverpool’s first XI, which has been recently ravaged by a host of injuries, players like the aforementioned de Jong and Romulo would solve some major problems that are beginning to surface within this Liverpool squad, particularly in the midfield.
According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, Liverpool are eying up a loan move for de Jong to cover for the loss of Lucas Leiva, who looks set to miss two months of the campaign through injury, per Carl Markham of The Independent.
By comparison, Liam Prenderville writes in the Mirror that Spartak Moscow midfielder Romulo is the man Rodgers has highlighted to bring some much-needed steel to his midfield.
It’s certainly an area in which Rodgers needs to strengthen. With Lucas unavailable, Liverpool are missing their only out-and-out holding midfield player, although Rodgers has previously suggested that it’s a position Steven Gerrard could operate in, per Dominic King of the Daily Mail.
It’s an experiment that has been tried in Liverpool’s last two outings against Stoke City and Aston Villa, but their defensive deficiencies in those two contests merely emphasize the need to bolster that area. Gerrard has an excellent passing range, of course, but he no longer has the dynamism or defensive nous to pin the midfield together, certainly not in a manner comparable to the industrious Brazilian.
In short, Liverpool need a physical, athletic, defensive-minded presence in the middle of the park to compensate for the loss of Lucas if they are going to seriously challenge for a top-four berth.
Against Aston Villa, the midfield was woefully exposed, as Gabriel Agbonlahor's runs from deep dragged Liverpool defensive lines all over the place and the Villa central trio completely bossed Gerrard and his midfield partner Jordan Henderson.
De Jong and Romulo are both players capable of plugging that gap. The former, whilst often maligned for being overly physical on occasion, played a key role in Manchester City’s title-winning season and is a player superb at protecting the back four. He's tidy on the ball, too, not to mention experienced when it comes to the robust nature of the Premier League.
As for the Brazilian, his development has stinted after suffering a serious knee injury earlier in the year, but he’s another player who could stem the flow of attacks through that Liverpool midfield. Given his age and his superior ability whilst in possession, he may be the more preferable option for Rodgers than de Jong. But an asking price of £10 million, per Prenderville’s piece, may deter Liverpool from making any kind of serious approach until the summer.
But it’s key the Anfield outfit resolve this persistent issue which is making their midfield as solid as a wet paper towel. With a host of teams in a transitional season, this may be as good a chance as any to breach the top four for the first time in four campaigns, but the Reds aren't going to do so with a wide-open midfield.
De Jong and Romulo fit the bill, and after missing out on Mohamed Salah to Chelsea, Liverpool supporters will be desperate for the club to show some further ambition in the January market and make a sustained effort toward securing a Champions League spot for next season.