Eder Militao: A Loan Option For Liverpool
Injuries to the defence have hampered Liverpool so far this season, even if it has barely shown on the respective Premier League and Champions League tables.
An injury sustained by Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside derby was the beginning of a run of rotten luck with injuries that is unprecedented in its scale in the club’s modern history.
Joe Gomez joined van Dijk on the sidelines — where the likelihood is both will spend the majority of the, if not all, the season — on international duty with England after an accident in training. Meanwhile, Joel Matip — whose injury record is, at best, patchy — has flitted in and out of contention due to constantly picking up small niggles.
Even Fabinho, who has barely missed a beat while transitioning from defensive midfield to the heart of defence, has had time on the treatment table this season. Trent Alexander Arnold, too, missed a month of football after a knock picked up away to Manchester City in the league, joining Kostas Tsimikas in the full-back medical absences club.
Behind all that, Alisson has twice picked up injuries that have ruled him out of games, with Adrian — unsuccessfully — and Caoimhin Kelleher both starting league games in the Brazilian’s stead between the posts this season.
All of these enforced alterations to the team has forced Jurgen Klopp to improvise — using Fabinho as a centre half and, for example, picking Jordan Henderson to play in the heart of the defence in the recent 1-1 draw at Fulham — and to turn his hand to youth.
Although hardly young, Nat Phillips, 23, is inexperienced at first-team level and has acquitted himself reasonably well when called upon. Likewise Rhys Williams, 19, who has excelled while playing in the Champions League, a competition which Phillips is ineligible for which shows where the Bolton native figured in the club’s plans prior to the glut of defensive injuries.
Neco Williams — albeit with some shaky moments — has provided a solid alternative to Alexander Arnold during his fellow academy graduates time out of action. Others, including Billy Koumetio — who became the Reds’ youngest-ever Champions League representative when appearing against Midtjylland — also played their part to shoulder the significant burden of a crazily compacted schedule of games.
The upcoming January transfer window provides the opportunity for Liverpool to replenish their squad with additions and few would fit the bill better than Real Madrid’s Eder Militao.
The former Porto defender finds himself out of favour at the Bernabeu, with only two La Liga performances to his name so far this term and — hypothetically — the Reds could chance their arm and throw their hat into the ring for the Brazilian with a loan bid.
Prior to his switch to the Spanish capital, the 22-year-old excelled at Porto — both domestically and in Europe — to the extent that he was rated among the best young defenders on the continent. Liverpool were among the club’s said to be interested in the 6’1″ stopper before he opted to join Madrid.
But the move hasn’t materialised how the eight-times capped Brazil international would have wished, with Militao making only fifteen league appearances for Los Blancos last season and finding himself behind the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the club’s central defender pecking order.
With Ramos ageing, though, perhaps a temporary switch to Anfield — where his versatility, the ex Sao Paulo stopper can also play right-back t0 a high standard, would prove invaluable — could help reignite his Madrid career and see him well placed to replace the Spaniard when he returns at the end of the current season.
It’s rare a move would suit all parties so well, but there’s the potential that everyone could win from a hypothetical Militao switch to Liverpool.
The Reds would receive a highly capable Brazil international defender with a point to prove and a relatively untapped reservoir of energy to work with. Additionally, it could benefit Klopp’s midfield by allowing Fabinho to return to the engine room, meaning there is more scope for rotation in that area and the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum could be afforded a well-merited rest.
From Real’s perspective, having one of their young players ply his trade under one of the best coaching tickets in the world — all the while dealing with a similar set of expectations, demands and pressure at a club of similar worldwide stature — and potentially coming back a better player is a tempting proposition. With Sergio Ramos’ deal expiring in the summer of 2021, a temporary switch to Anfield makes even more sense.
It could well be difficult to find a defender of the sufficient quality in January, not least taking into consideration that any club would surely demand a king’s ransom from Liverpool. Therefore, to sign Militao on loan makes sense from a playing and financial viewpoint and the move could allow the Reds to achieve their on field goals this season.