Jurgen Klopp stressed when taking the Liverpool job in October that the answers to the club’s problems wouldn’t lie in the January transfer window, but instead with working with those players currently at his disposal. Recent results, though, may well be leading to him having a change of mind.
Liverpool have now gone three Premier League outings without a win, dropping them down to ninth place in the Premier League table. Sunday saw the worst result yet of Klopp’s short reign, when his side were brushed aside 3-0 by newly promoted Watford at Vicarage Road.
And it emerged on Monday that Liverpool were closing in on their first signing since Klopp took the reins, although it won’t be one who can help the team for the remainder of this season. Widespread reports claim that Serbia Under-21 international Marko Grujić has agreed to a five-year contract with Liverpool ahead of the expected completion of a £5 million transfer from Red Star Belgrade.
The deal would represent something of a coup for the Merseysiders, with Italian giants Inter Milan also thought to be keen on a player who was a part of Serbia’s victorious Under-20 World Cup squad this past summer. However, part of the deal will see Grujić remain at his current club for the remainder of the season.
In search of an immediate boost, there has been plenty of speculation that Klopp could turn back to his former club. At the top of Klopp’s wanted list is thought to be midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. The 25-year-old was close to leaving Borussia Dortmund in the summer, before signing a one-year contract extension to keep him at the Westfalenstadion until 2017. Speaking recently, he failed to rule out a move and he has been linked with both Liverpool and Juventus. Now, though, the Turin side have ruled themselves out of a move, at least in January.
“The January transfer window is one for reparation and we do not need to repair anything,” Juventus director Beppe Marotta told Italian outlet Sport Mediaset. “In January the moves are not always advantageous for clubs, even if we remain vigilant for any interesting opportunities. Gundogan and [Ever] Banega? I can rule out a move for them.”
Still, it remains difficult to see Liverpool securing his in-demand signature, with Gundogan having cited the importance of the Champions League and Dortmund sure to be resistant to selling in mid-season.
Liverpool also look set to face strong resistance for another rumored January transfer window target. After several moves that failed to pan out, former Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkić has found his feet at Stoke City and this season has bounced back impressively from a serious injury. His form, in both creating and scoring goals, has led to rumors of a transfer, including to Liverpool. His current manager, Mark Hughes, though, has stressed he is confident that the Spaniard will be staying put.
"It doesn't surprise me, I don't think it's with any foundation,” he said, according to ESPN. “Bojan is an exceptional talent. Is there going to be interest? Possibly. But we wouldn't encourage it.
"If you look at what Bojan has said this week to other media outlets, he's said he's very, very happy here. A big part of why he's doing well is the confidence that he has in the club, the team, the people around him. He's quite happy at the moment so I don't think he's agitating for a move in January certainly.”
Rather than going forward, the biggest issue that Liverpool faced on Sunday was at the back. Indeed the team’s defense has been a weakness even dating back to their title challenge under Brendan Rodgers two seasons ago. According to reports in Germany, Klopp will seek to start shoring up his defense by luring Schalke center-back Joël Matip to Anfield. The Cameroon international will be out of contract in the summer and it is believed that Liverpool have set their sights on signing him on a free transfer.