Former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has criticised the club’s transfer activity in January and believes their decision to sign Ben Davies rather than a world-class centre-back may have cost them the title.
Liverpool have struggled in their title defence this season. A number of injuries to key defensive players has been a major issue.
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all out with long-term injuries, Liverpool could have spent big on a defender in January. Instead, they signed Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke and completed a cheap deal to sign Ben Davies from Championship side Preston.
However, Enrique thinks the signing of Davies was unnecessary. The former left-back claims that Liverpool should not have been looking at Championship players given their targets.
He told Empire of the Kop: “At the start of January, Liverpool were in a good position to still fight for the title.
“We got two players, one on loan and one from the Championship on deadline day. But I’ve never seen Davies play.
“The best moment for him to play is now – with five centre-backs injured – but he hasn’t had a minute! Perhaps Klopp has seen something in training and doesn’t think he’s up to it yet.
“When Phillips still plays ahead of him, you have to ask, ‘Why did we sign him?’
“I want to see Davies, but for me, a side like Liverpool shouldn’t be signing Championship players when you think about the level the team wants to be fighting at. Still, we need to see him, to see if he’s good or not.
“When we signed players like this when I was at the club, you understood – as we were always fighting for top four – but this Liverpool should be a team fighting for titles.
“I don’t know what is going on financially, but I really believe we should have spent money on a world-class centre-back in January. Then maybe we could have still been fighting for the title.”
Enrique wants Fabinho back in defence
Another injury absentee recently for Liverpool has been Fabinho, who had been covering at centre-back.
Usually a midfielder, the Brazilian was excelling in the deeper position, and Enrique thinks it makes sense for him to return there once he is back from injury.
He continued: “There’s been a lot of talk about what to do with Fabinho when he returns. 100%, I’d play him at centre-back.
“Because at the end of the day, [Nat] Phillips and Kabak are good players, but Fabinho is a player who as soon as he puts on the shirt, he performs.
“Phillips and Kabak are good and could go on to be excellent if they leave the club (look at Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto) but Fabinho is an elite star on the same level as Gomez and Matip at centre-back.
“Centre-back is one of the main positions on the field. The beginning of the spine. We need a leader there like Fabinho.
“Kabak and Phillips are very inexperienced, so with all the pain in my heart, as I’d love him in midfield, I’d pick Fab as a centre-back!
“In holding midfield, you can still play Thiago, Gini Wijnaldum or Hendo [Jordan Henderson] when he’s back, so we have more options. With Kabak and Phillips in defence, and Fab at no.6, we’ll have top midfielders waiting on the bench.”