Liverpools strongest line-up after January transfer window closes is obvious – Liverpool Echo

With little over a week left until the January transfer window closes, Liverpool fans are becoming increasingly resigned to the fact that the Reds will not be signing anyone this month.

Coinciding with a loss in form that has seen Jurgen Klopp‘s side surrender top spot in the Premier League, it has been a bitter pill to swallow and one made worse by the reigning champions’ continued injury woes.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez remain long-term absentees after suffering serious knee injuries, and while the Dutchman appears to be ahead of schedule and have been pictured running and kicking a ball during his continued rehabilitation, such activities have taken place away from Liverpool‘s AXA Training Centre with thoughts of a return to the near future somewhat premature.

The duo will no doubt have their eyes set on returns before the end of the season, with a place in the Netherlands and England squads’ for EURO 2020 a potential prize for their hard-fought efforts, but they will not come back into Klopp’s selection reckoning anytime soon.

However, it’s better news for the Reds regarding the rest of their walking wounded at a time when they need something to reignite their fortunes most.

So what could Liverpool’s strongest XI look like after the transfer window slams shut later this month? Theo Squires takes a look…

Goalkeeper

Alisson Becker. No doubt, is there? The Brazilian proved again against Manchester United at the weekend why he is the best goalkeeper in the world and is Klopp’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.

He might have missed his fair share of games through injury in the past 18 months but when he’s fit, he starts. End of.

Caomhin Kelleher will step up should the 28-year-old suffer another enforced absence, with the young Irishman usurping Adrian as the Reds’ deputy shot-stopper.

Defence

Despite the ever-changing centre-back partnerships at Anfield this season, Liverpool’s strongest back four in the absence of Van Dijk and Gomez goes without saying.

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Although far from his best this season, Trent Alexander-Arnold remains the Reds’ first-choice right-back while Andy Robertson’s position at left-back is equally secure despite the signing of Kostas Tsimikas last summer.

Fabinho has shone at centre-back this, even though Klopp’s side are missing his services in midfield, while Joel Matip will start alongside him when back from injury.

The only issue Liverpool have is keeping the Cameroonian fit, with Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and Jordan Henderson all filling in in his absence in recent weeks.

Midfield

Klopp has a plethora of midfield options to choose from but, with Fabinho utilised in defence, his strongest trio again seem rather obvious.

Henderson is a must, with the Reds having also missed the captain’s midfield presence when he has been required to drop into defence, while Thiago Alcantara will be looking to kickstart his Anfield career after injury following his summer move from Bayern Munich.

The final position goes to Gini Wijnaldum, however, with the Dutchman out of contract in the summer and looking increasingly likely to move on, Klopp could start to phase him out as he has does in the past with Emre Can, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana.

Should that be the case, Naby Keita is the obvious choice to step in if he can stay fit, with Curtis Jones and vice-captain James Milner also options if Klopp resists changing formation.

Attack

For the first time since being unleashed them together back in 2017, Liverpool’s famous front three might not be as secure as it once was.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have all struggled in recent weeks as the Reds have rued the absence of the injured Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese is the obvious option to step up when fit again, with the 24-year-old currently on track to return next month having been sidelined with a knee injury suffered against Midtjylland at the start of December.

Do you think Liverpool should drop Roberto Firmino? Let us know in the comments section below…

With Salah and Mane’s places in Liverpool’s starting XI unquestioned regardless of form, Firmino is the man most likely to make way.

The Brazilian’s goalscoring return has been cause for concern for some time, but while it can be overlooked in favour of the other aspects of his game when his team-mates are in form and delivering and his side are winning, recent results mean the scrutiny on his shoulders is harder than ever.

A switch to 4-2-3-1 is possible to shoehorn the quartet, but with one of the Reds’ best results of the season being their 5-0 victory away at Atalanta in the Champions League in a game which saw Jota lead the line at Firmino’s expense, it could be an experiment Klopp will re-introduce when his summer signing returns should fortunes not improve.

Best of the rest

Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri are further alternatives in attack and midfield, though the duo have not yet done enough to warrant forcing their way into Klopp’s strongest XI.

Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has barely been utilised since his own return from injury but has shown in quality for the Reds in the past.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

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Looking further ahead, Van Dijk is a certainty to start when back fit for Liverpool with a return to team training at the AXA Training Centre the desired step that will signify he is closing in on a first team return.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane.