Liverpool have reportedly turned their attention towards signing Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral in the January transfer window, as they look to solve their current injury crisis in defence.
According to Turkish news outlet Fanatik, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City are all interested in signing the Juventus defender this month.
It is suggested that the 22-year-old is keen to be playing regular football ahead of the European Championships with Turkey this summer, something which he is not currently getting under Andrea Pirlo with the Serie A side, as he has made just nine appearances in all competitions this season.
If Liverpool were to sign the defender, who joined the Old Lady for €18 million (£16.5m) in 2019, this month it could be bad news for Nathaniel Phillips. It seems unlikely that the 23-year-old would be offered an extension to his contract that is set to expire at the end of this season, despite him stepping up this season in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
With the likes of Joel Matip also set to return soon, whilst Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio may both be knocking on the door of the first-team squad again next season, it seems likely that Phillips would quickly become surplus to requirements once Liverpool’s usual starters are back fit.
Demiral would certainly come with high expectations, with Turkish football expert Emre Sarigul full of praise for the defender, saying:
“Demiral was a Vidic fan growing up and he is a similar stature to the former Manchester United man. The Turkish international towers above most players, is physical, strong in the air and surprisingly technical with the ball for such a big man. He is a natural leader and cool under pressure.”
This is glowing praise for the former Sassuolo man and judging by the description of Sarigul, he could be the ideal man to replace Van Dijk whilst the Dutchman recovers from his injury.
Certainly, we saw Liverpool’s defensive frailties exposed at times in the 1-0 defeat against Southampton on Monday night, with Jurgen Klopp fielding two defensive-midfielders at centre-back in Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, so signing a centre-back such as Demiral must surely be a priority for sporting director Michael Edwards this month.