Jurgen Klopp should use Joe Gomez for his “ability to carry out recovery runs” to fill Virgil van Dijk’s space at Liverpool, according to Danny Higginbotham – but it will mean a tactical change.
The Reds have been trying to figure out how to replace the Dutchman after he picked up an ACL tear in the Merseyside derby.
It has seen some fans suggest that the Reds boss should look to the January transfer window for a new centre-back.
But Higginbotham, who enjoyed a playing career of 450 club appearances over 17 seasons, believes Gomez possesses the best qualities to fill in for van Dijk.
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Liverpool got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds.
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Youngster Ki-Jana Hoever is set to head to Wolves in a £10million deal, while Gini Wijnaldum continues to be linked with Barcelona. There's a lot to keep track of.
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Writing in his Sun column, the 41-year-old said: “In order to supplement that fact we may see Liverpool now use Gomez in that role because he is quick and has the ability to carry out recovery runs.
“He is the most like-for-like swap as the other two in Matip and Fabinho don’t quite have that pace to recover.
“But another way around it is Klopp may opt for a deeper defensive midfielder in their 4-3-3.
“So when they are in possession of the ball they are more or less like a back three which stops teams from exploiting that gap between the two lines on the break.
“Having that player in there will also keep Liverpool’s ability to turn defence into attack so quickly – which Van Dijk has been vital in with his range of passing.”
But Klopp has been warned why the Premier League champions need to change their formation.
Higginbotham added: “Now without [van DIjk], the problem Jurgen Klopp will have is that he now has centre halves who have all become used to sweeping up and will now have to step up.
“Whoever he decides to pair, one will now not be able to carry out their usual role, as if they both drop back there will be a massive gap between the defence and midfield during the press.
“With van Dijk’s style of play and leadership he makes sure that does not happen.
“So, they are not just losing one of the best centre backs in the world, they are losing a key cog in their style of play which will inevitably affect the dynamics of the way they play.”
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