Liverpool newsnow as the Reds manager may have found a solution to his defence problem as they return Premier League action against Wolves on Saturday.
Liverpool boss, Jürgen Klopp eagerly anticipates the conclusion of the international break. Klopp is notoriously averse to his players representing their respective nations during these break, and this time, his apprehension is entirely justified.
Before the hiatus, Liverpool had been steadily building momentum, claiming three consecutive victories, with their standout performance delivered against Aston Villa. Klopp’s fervent hope is that they can seamlessly resume this winning streak when they face Wolves this Saturday.
However, Klopp faces a significant conundrum ahead of their clash at Molineux. First, they lost Ibrahima Konaté to injury just before the Newcastle match. Then, Virgil van Dijk incurred a suspension that has now been prolonged, sidelining him for their upcoming fixture.
What’s the Latest Liverpool Injury Update?
Compounding their woes, Trent Alexander-Arnold is nursing an injury after being forced off during the match against Villa. With Conor Bradley also unavailable due to a back stress fracture, Liverpool’s defensive options appear rather limited for the upcoming weekend.
Joe Gomez and Joël Matip may be the only experienced central defenders available to confront Wolves. While Jarell Quansah has made appearances off the bench this season, it may be a tall order for the 20-year-old to start, given his limited first-team experience.
Likewise, Stefan Bajčetić may not be ready to seize this opportunity just yet. Although he impressed during his appearances for Klopp’s side last season, he has yet to feature for Liverpool this season following his return from injury.
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Under these challenging circumstances, Klopp may need to think innovatively to address the defensive problems, and a solution may lie within one of his summer acquisitions.
Wataru Endō has yet to establish himself fully at Anfield. His solitary start came against Newcastle, where he was substituted just before the hour mark. His other two appearances have been brief cameos off the bench against Bournemouth and Villa.
However, Endō’s impressive performance for Japan in their 4-1 victory over Germany over the weekend has thrust him into contention for the Wolves match. The potential defensive crisis could be the opportunity he needs to earn a place in the starting lineup.
Endō’s primary position is as a defensive midfielder, but he boasts considerable experience as a central defender. In fact, over the course of his career, he has made more appearances as a center-back than as a midfielder.
Admittedly, only two of his 239 games as a central defender, as listed on Transfermarkt, occurred outside of Japan. His most recent outing in this role was in 2020 for Stuttgart. Nevertheless, given Liverpool’s current predicament, they may find it difficult to overlook this wealth of experience.
“Wataru is a truly exceptional player,” Klopp commented on the club’s official website upon signing the 30-year-old. “I understand how football operates in this world, but take a closer look, because he is an exceptional player. He brings experience, having captained Stuttgart and Japan. He is fluent in English, a great individual, a family man, a powerhouse on the field, and an excellent footballer on top of it all. His work ethic is sensational. I am genuinely delighted. He is an outstanding footballer with vast experience, and his acquisition could prove to be a shrewd move.”
It should be emphasized that deploying Endō in this capacity should be considered a measure of last resort by Liverpool. Ideally, Alexander-Arnold will recover in time to return to action after withdrawing from England’s national team duties. Nevertheless, if this proves unfeasible, Endō may well demonstrate the wisdom behind Liverpool’s decision to sign a player of his caliber, a move that raised eyebrows during the summer transfer window.