5 potential Liverpool transfer targets for January after Virgil van Dijk injury

Liverpool suffered a huge blow to their title defence hopes after Virgil van Dijk was ruled out for most of the season with an ACL injury.

The Dutch colossus is set to go under knife after suffering the injury against Everton on Saturday, and faces a battle to play again for the Premier League champions before the end of the campaign.

Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are the only other senior centre-halves in Jurgen Klopp's squad, but both are injury-prone and the manager will be ruing his decision not to replace the departing Dejan Lovren in the transfer window.

Fabinho can also fill in at centre-half, while Klopp could turn to youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.

But with the title on the line – not to mention Liverpool's Champions League ambitions – the Reds boss will no doubt want to recruit an experienced, specialist centre-half in the January transfer window. Here, Star Sport looks at five options.

1. Kalidou Koulibaly

The Napoli defender has been linked with a move to the Premier League for some time, and many expected him to join Manchester City in the summer.

But Pep Guardiola's side opted to sign Ruben Dias from Benfica instead, while speculation over interest from Manchester United also came to nothing.

Napoli are believed to want at least £70million for the 29-year-old Koulibaly, who still has three years remaining on his contract with the Serie A club.

Liverpool have not been known to make reckless purchases in recent years, and given Koulibaly's age, the Reds may look for better value elsewhere.

2. Dayot Upamecano

Dayot Upamecano would potentially represent better value than Koulibaly, with the RB Leipzig centre-half still only 21.

Like Koulibaly, the French international would not come cheap, with his release clause currently £54m.

But depending on how the season is going when the window opens in January, it may be worth Liverpool splashing out to ensure they have a top-class defence in Van Dijk's absence.

And given his young age, Upamecano could be developed as a long-term partner for the Dutchman.

Upamecano is another player believed to be on United's radar as they seek a partner for Harry Maguire, while he has also been linked with Arsenal in the past.

3. Diego Carlos

The Sevilla defender was linked with interest from Liverpool over the summer after helping his side win the Europa League and secure Champions League football.

Carlos is an aggressive, modern-day central centre-half, who boasts great speed as well as composure on the ball – an ideal Klopp signing.

However, the 27-year-old has nearly four years remaining on his current deal with Sevilla, and like Koulibaly and Upamecano, he will cost a few quid.

The 26-year-old has a £68m release clause in his contract with Sevilla, although it has been reported the Andalucian club might accept a lower offer.

4. Ben White

Ben White was another player linked with Liverpool over the summer, with the Reds having scouted the Brighton defender extensively during his loan spell with Leeds United.

White excelled at Elland Road, helping Marcelo Bielsa's side win promotion to the Championship, and has started all Brighton's Premier League games so far this season.

The 23-year-old would be a cheaper option than the aforementioned defenders, with Brighton believed to value him at around £25m.

However Leeds failed with two summer bids for White, according to The Mirror, and Brighton may be reluctant to sell him midway through their season if they're fighting for Premier League survival.

5. Ozan Kabak

Liverpool were reportedly interested in Schalke defender Ozan Kabak over the summer but chose not to make a bid.

The 20-year-old is highly-rated in Germany, and is believed to have a £41million release clause.

However, it is thought that Schalke would not be willing to let Kabak go before next summer at the earliest.

The Turkey centre-half would no doubt relish the chance to become team-mates with Van Dijk, having recently outlined his admiration for the Liverpool star.

The youngster said: "My personal aim is to become a top defender in maybe two or three years, like Virgil van Dijk."

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