Much has been made about Liverpool’s travails in the goalkeeping, defensive and attacking departments this season.
Such was the extent of their early-season bumblings that there was widespread expectation that Brendan Rodgers would be charging from stall to stall once the transfer market opened in January.
Having neglected to use the first two weeks of buying time to acquire any new recruits, it would seem the Ulsterman doesn’t share this belief.
With key men returning from injury and others gradually rediscovering their form, an extensive January outlay is not what the Reds require.
In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that if they keep the current squad together heading into next season (minus Steven Gerrard, obviously) they’ll need to bolster only one position to transform them back into title contenders.
It’s not a striker, or a goalkeeper, but a solitary central defender that would do the job.
Summer signing Dejan Lovren has so far failed to justify the £20m splurged to lure him to Anfield, with no outfielder in the Premier League making more defensive errors leading to goals according to the stats compilers at Squawka.com.
To avoid another disaster in the recruitment department, they need firstly, a defender who a) performed consistently well in the Premier League for a number of seasons, not just one and or b) hasn’t experienced the English top-flight at all.
An over-eagerness to attack the ball prevails in the current ranks too, with Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho all front-foot defenders.
A stopper prepared to cover one of this aggressive trio is what Liverpool need most.
Schalke’s Roman Neustadter is of this particular mode.
Aged 26, he has experience in elite European competitions and challenging for domestic honours too.
More importantly, a low average of just four clearances per outing suggests he’s not throwing himself at every aerial ball that comes his way, with his 2.6 interceptions per match mean a testament to his patient, calculated approach to defending.
Similarly, fitting in with the Reds’ style of play, his pass completion rate stands at 89.1 per cent across all competitions.
Improving the balance in the backline will in turn relieve pressure on under-fire net minder Simon Mignolet, which will help him rediscover the form that coerced Liverpool to buy him in the first place.