Twenty games, 45 points, second most goals scored, least goals conceded and a three-point cushion at the top of the table. In a season where few people gave them any chance, Liverpool have stolen a march in the Premier League title race. Jurgen Klopp has managed to do something rare: successfully help a top team transition into a second phase with new players.
However, Liverpool are not a team without weaknesses. In fact, they have been far from their best in many of their games but have had lady luck on their side. Jurgen Klopp, though, is a master tactician and knows that his squad needs strengthening. And the winter transfer window is the perfect opportunity to fill in the gaps in the squad.
One problem, though, is conducting transfers in the winter window is difficult and hugely relies on how motivated a player is to join a new team mid-season. However, Liverpool have made some of their best signings (Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Cody Gakpo) in January.
So, here are the top players that the Reds should target in the 2024 winter transfer window.
Piero Hincapie- Bayer Leverkusen
Xabi Alonso has executed a footballing revolution at Bayer Leverkusen this season. The club currently find themselves at the top of the league table. However, one player who has missed most of this action is centre-back Piero Hincapie. The Ecuadorian was one of the team’s best players in the last two seasons.
However, this season, he has found minutes hard to come by and has got three game starts. Given how talented he is, Hincapie could be tempted to change clubs. And Liverpool presents the perfect opportunity. With Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk already 32, Liverpool need a player who, with Ibrahima Konate, could form a formidable duo in the heart of the Reds’ defence, and the 21-year-old is one of the best equipped to take that role.
Goncalo Inacio- Sporting CP
If Liverpool fail to sign Hincapie, another alternative is the impressive Goncalo Incaio, who has become one of the best defenders in the Portuguese league. Liverpool have found success in players they have signed from the Primeira Liga, with Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez becoming an integral part of the squad. Incaio also possesses the traits that can make him a massive hit at Anfield.
Inacio is one of the best passers of the ball. His composure on the ball, especially when dealing with a high press, is something that every club is a fan of. At just 22 years old, Inacio still has to reach his potential. Moreover, Jurgen Klopp has had an impeccable record of developing raw young talent into world-class superstars.
Getting Inacio would also be much easier as Bayer Leverkusen would probably play in the Champions League next season, which could give them the grounds to earn the most money while selling their players. At the same time, Sporting would be willing to part with players if the price is right.
Gonçalo Inácio – we’re watching.
Soon to Liverpool? pic.twitter.com/4RNLbAu7t5
— Szoboszlord (@Szoboszlord) January 3, 2024
Despite Wataru Endo performing well above expectations, Liverpool still have a gaping hole in the team: the defensive midfield position. While the team has managed to find a system that negates the impact of the absence of such a player, Liverpool would bolster the area if they get the right player.
One player on their radar is Fluminense’s young star, Andre Trindade da Costa Neto. The 22-year-old has been a revelation in the Brazilian league. Andre has made the most passes in the league, and his heatmap closely resembles that of a certain N’Golo Kante.
Andre is also at a stage where he is ready to take the next step: to take his career across the Atlantic. However, Liverpool will need an incredible offer if they want Fluminense to sell one of their best players in the middle of the season.
It’s a road less travelled by Liverpool, but the answer to their midfield conundrum could be in the form of Fluminense’s Andre.
— Evan (@SawkurGod) July 15, 2023
Archie Gray- Leeds United
One of the major highlights for Liverpool this season has been the rise of young stars such as Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Jarell Quansah. These players have saved Liverpool a lot of money in the transfer market and given the team a considerable quality squad depth.
And Liverpool want to continue this tradition this season, having identified 17-year-old Archie Gray. The teenager has already racked up 24 appearances this season. His stats for the season are beyond impressive for a player his age. Gray has the most successful tackles in the team and is among the top five players for one-twos opened, counter-pressing actions, and successful dribbles.
In short, Gray is the perfect player for Klopp to develop, but even if he signs for Liverpool, a first-team appearance will have to wait.
I was very impressed with Archie Gray playing as a right back this evening for #lufc – to show such versatility at a young age is fantastic. He had a really tough opponent in Stephy Mavididi, and was a big part in a great clean sheet.
Here’s his action map from tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/cA3QE9dbXW
— WT Analysis (@wt_analysis) November 3, 2023
Johan Bakayoko- PSV
Before the end of the 2023 summer transfer window, Liverpool were caught in no man’s land after Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad also put in a reported £215 million bid to sign their star player Mohammed Salah. While Liverpool managed to retain the Egyptian, they knew they had to start planning for life after his departure. Johan Bakayoko is one such player who fits the bill.
With Salah in top form, Liverpool could still sell him for upward of £150 million, giving them a considerable sum to look for his replacement. However, the club have repeatedly shown that they are advanced planners, and if they get to sign Bakayoko in the winter, they will do so.
The PSV winger, if signed in January, would also benefit from learning under Salah’s tutelage.