The Chalkboard: Liverpool must sign a new defensive partner for van Dijk

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Liverpool survived an injury crisis to keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night, but one worrying statistic shows exactly how bad the Reds’ centre back depth truly is.

On the chalkboard

Liverpool needed a superb performance from the versatile Fabinho on Tuesday, as injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren coincided with a suspension for Virgil van Dijk.

Lovren is missing with a hamstring injury and Gomez is out with a leg fracture, meaning Joel Matip has carried far more responsibility recently than in previous seasons.

However, just like the aforementioned pair, the lanky Cameroonian has one major issue – fitness.

According to Reds statistician Simon Brundish, Matip has missed 17 of a possible 54 games since February 2018, while Lovren and Gomez have missed 18 and 25 respectively.

This means the Reds trio have missed a total 60 games over the course of 12 months, and this is simply not acceptable for a team yearning for trophies.

New signing needed

The Reds are looking likely to invest up front this summer, where the depth of Jurgen Klopp’s squad has been sorely exposed recently. Unless one of Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge hits a red-hot vein of form before the end of the season, expect to see a new deputy for Roberto Firmino next season.

While support up front is no doubt a priority though, centre back has to be next on the list, where without van Dijk the Reds would be in an absolutely perilous position.

The Dutch international can make anyone look good playing alongside him, but not if they are never fit, which has often been the case for all three of his regular defensive partners.

Van Dijk will turn 28 this summer, and the club simply cannot waste his best years patching up the other half of his defence with injury-prone and unreliable players.