Martin Keown says Southampton’s in-form centre-half Jannik Vestergaard is a player he thought Jurgen Klopp would target in January given Liverpool’s extensive injury problems in defence.
The Reds lost Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to serious knee injuries earlier in the season, while their only other senior option at centre-back, Joel Matip, has continued to struggle for fitness.
Klopp has had to deploy midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in his backline, while inexperienced duo Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams have also featured.
The German boss has admitted that it is unlikely Liverpool will bring in a central defender in the January transfer window due to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I cannot say definitely we will not bring one in but it is just not likely because of the situation in the world,’ Klopp said on Thursday.
But given the Reds are without a win in their last three Premier League games and look set to be without Gomez and Van Dijk for the majority of the season, Keown is surprised Vestergaard doesn’t appear to be on the club’s transfer wishlist.
‘I was looking at Vestergaard playing for Southampton, and I will say this on record, I have not seen a better central defender this season,’ the Arsenal legend told talkSPORT.
‘I looked at his contract situation, I’m not trying to cause a problem for Southampton, and I thought that maybe that would be a player that Jurgen Klopp would go after.
‘He has been brilliant this season. He is injured at the moment. But it doesn’t appear as if Jurgen is going to do that.
‘He’s got youngsters there, Phillips, Rhys Williams, at the moment he’s playing two midfield players in that position which will take away from the confidence of those young men as well so it’s not an easy solution for him at the moment.’
‘It’s his passing, it reminds me of Van Dijk,’ Keown added. ‘I call it a stationary platform. When you don’t run with the ball you stop and if you look at those two, the way they ping balls, the way he threads things into midfield, the challenges, he’s a big man.’