PL club targeting 24-year-old Liverpool defender in January– can Klopp afford to let him leave?

Transfer News: West Ham are keen on a deal for Liverpool ace Nathaniel Phillips

According to transfer news on Football Insider (h/t Yorkshire Evening Post), West Ham are interested in signing Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips in January. The centre-back has suffered for game-time at Anfield this season, after the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.

The 24-year-old signed for the Reds in 2019 from Bolton. He was immediately sent out on loan to VFB Stuttgart to garner some first-team experience. He was often called upon by Klopp last season, in light of the injuries to some of his main defenders. However, he has rarely featured in the league this term, and an exit could be in the works.

Would West Ham United be a good fit for him? And can Jurgen Klopp afford to let him leave?

Liverpool could do without their fifth-choice centre-back

During the 2019/20 season, Phillips helped Stuttgart seal promotion back to the Bundesliga. Last season, he formed a pivotal part of the backline that made it into the Top 4 despite the club’s injury trouble. Thus, he is a good piece to have the jig-saw, and at 24, he could become a mainstay in the matchday squad in the years to come.

West Ham United are targeting a move for Nathaniel Phillips in January. (Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images)
West Ham are targeting a move for Nathaniel Phillips in January. (Photo by Peter Powell – Pool/Getty Images)

But West Ham United could make better use of him, given their ambitions of finishing in the Top 4. The injury to Angelo Ogbonna might cost them dearly in the coming months. The Italian formed a great partnership with Kurt Zouma at the back, but Craig Dawson just does not have the legs to complement the Frenchman in a similar manner.

Phillips would slot right into their squad, if not the starting line-up. He has enough Premier League experience and is young enough to play a considerable number of games. Moreover, Liverpool can certainly cope without him. The Reds made a single signing in the summer by bringing in Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig. 

Moreover, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip also look fitter than ever. Joe Gomez is also nearing a return from injury and is more than a competent option to start games. Last season, Klopp also preferred fielding Fabinho at the back ahead of Phillips, indicating where the Englishman ranks in the pecking order. He has also only managed 134 minutes of action this season.

Thus, they can afford to let a player who barely makes their matchday squad on most weeks leave in the coming transfer window.

Liverpool could garner a reasonable transfer fee for Nathaniel Phillips

Phillips’ value to the Hammers is far greater than it is to Liverpool. The Reds are likely to be aware of this and can test how desperate the London club are by demanding a reasonable transfer fee. The Anfield outfit would be well within their rights to do so since they tied him down to a new deal in the summer, keeping him at the club until 2025.

Nathaniel Phillips has suffered for game-time at Liverpool this season.
Nathaniel Phillips has suffered for game-time at Liverpool this season. (Getty Images)

The 2020 Premier League champions do not have a habit of splurging in the market as they work on a sustainable transfer model. However, one cannot help but wonder whether they could use another forward in the frontline. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are bound to leave for the AFCON soon, and they could miss several important games.

In such a scenario, Liverpool can invest sensibly in January and buy themselves another attacking option. They are competing on all fronts this season, including the EFL Cup. Hence, they can use the squad depth too.

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Their recruitment process and transfer policies have been sound in the past decade, and offloading Phillips to sign a player that could be beneficial in another area on the pitch would amount to good business. 

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