3 January Transfer Targets Who Could Spark Liverpool to Life in 2016

Jack LusbyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2016

LYON, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 8: Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon celebrates the victory at the end of the French Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and AS Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Stade de Gerland on November 8, 2015 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

After three months searching for stability in charge at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp enters a hugely important 2016, with the gradual thinning of his squad underlining the need to reinforce.

Heading into a busy January, Klopp is without a number of key first-team players, including Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, with a total of 11 injuries ravaging his senior squad.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Jurgen Klopp the head coach / manager of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Semi Final, First Leg, between Stoke City and Liverpool at Britannia Stadium on January 5, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Matt
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Throughout the year, Klopp can expect further restrictions to his selection, with Kolo Toure, Jose Enrique, Jordan Rossiter, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Jon Flanagan all set to leave the club upon the expiry of their respective contracts at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.

With his sights set on success in cup competitionsboth on the domestic stage and in Europe this seasonas well as a respectable finish in the Premier League, the German is likely to look to the transfer market this January, but to whom could he turn?

Here are three January transfer targets who could spark Liverpool into life in 2016, including a much-needed addition in defence.


Schalke's Cameroonian defender Joel Matip reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Schalke 04 v SV Darmstadt 98, on August 22, 2015 in Gelsenkirchen.   AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO

Joel Matip

With Sakho, Skrtel, Lovren, Toure and Joe Gomez all on the injury list at this stage, Klopp will be desperate to add to his centre-back ranks this January.

"In this moment with no centre-back fit I would say it is a situation where we have to think about going into the transfer market," he said after Tuesday night's 1-0 League Cup semi-final first-leg win away to Stoke City, according to the Press Association (h/t ESPN FC).

"Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs—that's a good situation. At the start of the season we had five. Now we have none."

Schalke's Cameroonian defender Joel Matip celebrates after scoring the 1-0 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Schalke 04 v 1 FSV Mainz 05, in Gelsenkirchen, on September 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN  RESTRICTIONS

There have been suggestions, via the Mirror's David Maddock, that Klopp was exploring the possibility of signing Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic or Inter Milan outcast Andrea Ranocchia on loan. If the German is searching for a long-term addition to his defensive ranks, though, he should look no further than Schalke's versatile Joel Matip.

Matip is a strong, robust, aggressive centre-back, also capable of operating on either defensive flank and at the base of the midfield, who could slot comfortably into Klopp's high line.

An efficient passer of the ball with exceptional aerial ability, the 24-year-old would offer Klopp the perfect balance when bolstering his back line, with his all-round game open to development under the former Dortmund manager.

Long reported to be a summer target for Klopp, Liverpool's interest in Matip could be brought forward to January, as Paul Vinnell of Sky Sports recently suggested.

If Schalke can be convinced to part with their prized defensive asset six months early, the Cameroon international could prove to be a real boost to Klopp's squad.


Granit Xhaka of Borussia Monchengladbach during the DFB Pokal match between Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach on October 28, 2015 at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Granit Xhaka

Though Henderson and Emre Can look to have formed a strong partnership in the centre of midfield this season and James Milner, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva able to cover for the duo, there is room for another top-class central midfielder within Klopp's squad.

That could be impressive Borussia Monchengladbach talent Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Merseyside by German publication Bild (h/t the Telegraph).

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Jordan Henderson of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Semi Final, First Leg, between Stoke City and Liverpool at Britannia Stadium on January 5, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Gett
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Liverpool are said to be "weighing up a bid for the 23-year-old but would have to break their record fee to secure the deal," with Monchengladbach's asking price rumoured to be £37 million—£2 million more than the Reds paid for Andy Carroll in 2011.

Based on potential, this is a reasonable valuation, with Xhaka having progressed into one of the top midfielders in the Bundesliga following his move to Borussia-Park from FC Basel in 2012 and as the Switzerland international signed a new deal in February, designed to keep him at the club until 2019.

This would take careful consideration for Klopp, but Xhaka could establish himself as a key feature within the Liverpool midfield.

Klopp's side have been at their best in a 4-3-3 formation, with two more mobile midfielders—in theory, Henderson and Can—pushing forward into the final third and given licence to probe by the presence of a more diligent holding midfielder.

Moenchengladbach's Swedish defender Oscar Wendt and Moenchengladbach's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka celebrate 1-0 during the Group D, second-leg UEFA Champions League football match Borussia Moenchengladbach vs FC Sevilla in Moenchengladbach, western Ger

Xhaka has the ability to play this defensive role, serving as a deep-lying playmaker for Monchengladbach, with his energy, tenacity and strong passing range allowing him to thrive, but when required, he would be able to operate in a more advanced position, too.

This versatility, and the scope to hone his skills under Klopp, would make him an invaluable asset to the Reds.

If Klopp is on the lookout for another midfielder this January, Xhaka would be a safe bet.


LYON, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 8: Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon celebrates his third goal during the French Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and AS Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Stade de Gerland on November 8, 2015 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Ge
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette

Having sanctioned the £32.5 million signing of Christian Benteke in the summer, Liverpool's owner, Fenway Sports Group, may well be regretting its decision, with the hulking Belgian failing to make the required impact under Klopp in 2015/16.

Lyon's French forward Alexandre Lacazette warms up ahead of the French L1 football match between Lyon and Montpellier at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France, on November 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD / AFP / JEFF PACHOUD        (Photo

Add Benteke's woes to the injury problems faced by Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings, and Liverpool are in dire need of reinforcements in attack.

One player who would be capable of slotting into Klopp's forward line as an alternative to the sluggish Benteke is Lyon's highly rated France international Alexandre Lacazette, who was the subject of interest from Newcastle United earlier in January.

According to Simon Jones of MailOnline, Lacazette rejected the opportunity to join the Magpies' fight against relegation after Lyon accepted their bid of £22 million, with the striker "fully focused on securing his place in France's Euro 2016 squad this summer."

Two things this establishes is that Lyon are willing to sell their star attacker and that Lacazette's ambitions are above those of a lowly Premier League outfit, indicating a move to Liverpool would not be off the cards for the 24-year-old.

After scoring 27 goals in 33 Ligue 1 games last season, Lacazette's prolific run has come to an end in 2015/16, and he has netted just six times in 15 appearances. But with Lyon languishing in ninth in the French top flight, the blame cannot solely be pinned on their striker.

Lacazette has the qualities to succeed in the Liverpool attack, with his pace, dynamism and predatory instinct making him a similar proposition to Sturridge, and these talents could be harnessed by Klopp.

With £22 million likely able to secure Lacazette's services this January, Liverpool would be remiss to ignore the opportunity.


Statistics via WhoScored.com.