Former Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher has urged his former side to delve into the January transfer market for Virgil van Dijk’s replacement, offering RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano as a potential target.
Van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury during Saturday’s Merseyside derby after a nasty tackle from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. While neither the club nor the player have offered a concrete return date, Van Dijk’s absence is thought to span the majority of the 2020/21 season.
Liverpool confirmed that the Dutch international will have surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament. Van Dijk’s absence is a monumental loss for the Reds – the 29-year-old didn’t miss a single minute of league football throughout Liverpool’s title-winning campaign last season.
While there are already options within their squad, Carragher has implored Liverpool to search for a replacement in the winter transfer window.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Carragher said: “There was no doubt Liverpool had to go big in the transfer market next summer, that was the next one. That’s got to be brought forward to 1 January. Not the end of January, not negotiating with the club…”
While the show’s presenter David Jones and guest former footballer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink suggested that finding a centre-back of the requisite standard was a tough proposition, Carragher offered his own suggestion: “There’s a young guy who everyone’s talking about, there’s one called Upamecano, who’s at Leipzig.
“There’s talk of him. He’s not the profile of Van Dijk, I think he’s only 6’1, 6’2, so he’s maybe not that aerial challenge. But if that’s the one that Liverpool wanted next summer, bring it forward. Pay extra money and do it on 1 January. That means Liverpool would have to get through the next 11 league games without Virgil van Dijk [or Upamecano].”
The 21-year-old French international signed a new contract with RB Leipzig in August which included a release clause worth €40m when it becomes active in the summer of 2021. Liverpool were one of several sides linked with Upamecano when this news was revealed however, if they follow Carragher’s advice and act in January, they won’t be able to take advantage of this discounted price.