Football

Liverpool get defensive reinforcements as Matip is ruled out for rest of season

Liverpool’s injury woes have mounted as defender Joel Matip was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering an ankle ligament injury. 

Matip was injured in a challenge with Tottenham striker Son Heung-min during Liverpool’s 3-1 win last Thursday. 

The 29-year-old is the latest Liverpool defender to be hit by a serious fitness issue this season after Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez also sustained injuries from which they are yet to return. 

“It was really unlucky because it was a brilliant challenge he made actually, he saved our life in that moment in the Tottenham game when he won the challenge against Son,” Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp told Liverpool’s website on Monday (Feb 1). 

“He injured his ankle and played the game on and now is out for the season, so you can imagine how much he tried to stay on the pitch and tried to help us. 

“But he will be ready for the start of the next pre-season and finally everything will be sorted.”

Matip’s injury is another blow to Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title. With makeshift centre-back Fabinho, usually deployed as a midfielder, also sidelined by injury, Klopp has had to use midfielder Jordan Henderson at centre-back alongside either Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams. 

Klopp brought in defensive reinforcements ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline as he signed Preston centre-back Ben Davies, 25, in a permanent deal and landed Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, 20, on loan for the rest of this season.

The Reds will pay £500,000 (S$912,000) up front to Preston, who could receive add-ons totalling up to £1.1m during Davies' time at Liverpool, and will also claim 20 per cent of any profit the Reds make on selling him, reported Sky Sports.

Klopp told Liverpool's website that Kabak comes with a glowing reference from his close friend and former Schalke coach David Wagner. Said Klopp: "Dave always said he will be a future captain of a team. He is a proper personality...He wants to learn but he can deliver already.”

Moving out on loan is Japanese attacker Takumi Minamino, who has joined Southampton temporarily for the rest of the season.

Liverpool sit four points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand. The Reds face Brighton on Thursday morning (Singapore time) before hosting City in a crucial clash next Monday morning. – AFP 

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