Virgil van Dijk will not play again for Liverpool this season barring "a miracle", according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

It had been reported that Van Dijk could return in April from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Merseyside derby last October.

The 29-year-old has been undertaking his rehabilitation in Dubai and was said to be closing in on a return to the pitch, but Klopp does not consider that to be a realistic possibility.

"Whatever happens I think we have space for Virgil on the Champions League list, I think he was on the Premier League list – nobody told me I have to change something with that. If we have space in the Champions League list, Virgil will be on the list," he told a news conference.

"No doctor told me there's a chance for Virgil to play again this season. I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's not likely.

"If we have space we will put them all on even when the medical people tell them there's no chance because we believe in miracles from time to time.

"But if there's no place then we have to consider these things and say the chance is not too big so we have to make a decision. But if they're on the list then it's only because we hope for nearly a miracle and that's it."

With Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and makeshift centre-back Fabinho also out injured, Liverpool brought in Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak from Schalke on deadline day.

Klopp was pleased to have bolstered his defensive options and intends to let Rhys Williams return to the Under-23 squad in order to get more game time.

Liverpool take on Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday and Klopp is hopeful he will not have to throw Davies and Kabak straight into action against Graham Potter's men at Anfield.

"The good thing is it is football and they play football in Germany and the Championship, so that's not the problem," said Klopp.

"[There have been] 12 or 13 different centre-half pairings and then that makes it more difficult for example Neco [Williams] and Kostas [Tsimikas] too.

"You search for stability in the team when you change that often, but we don't live in an idle world and that means we have to be smart and quick and try different things.

"We play differently to Preston and Schalke so they'll need time but we don't have a lot, so we'll use the time we have in our hands and try our best.

"If they had to start Wednesday together I think that would be not too cool, but we will give them a few more days."

Achraf Hakimi only moved to Inter from Real Madrid at the start of the 2020-21 season.

But the future of the Morocco international is already making headlines.

Will Hakimi still be an Inter player at the end of the campaign?

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester City are interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Calciomercato.

Hakimi has established himself as a key player for Antonio Conte's Inter after arriving from Real Madrid.

But Inter – in the spotlight amid reported financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic – are facing a battle to keep Hakimi, with Chelsea and Arsenal also chasing the Morocco international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato says Napoli want to bring back former head coach Maurizio Sarri. Gennaro Gattuso is under pressure and Sky Sport Italia claims the two parties will part in June. Sarri left Napoli for Chelsea in 2018. Former boss Rafael Benitez has also been linked.

Lionel Messi could help bitter rivals Madrid. According to El Chiringuito, Messi's proposed switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain could aid Madrid in their quest to prise Kylian Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu. Mbappe has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are interested in Erling Haaland, but Borussia Dortmund have no intention of losing both the Norwegian and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho at the end of the season.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed Premier League champions Liverpool and Chelsea are battling the Bundesliga holders to sign RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano.

Upamecano is one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe, with Rummenigge previously stating Bayern's interest in the France international centre-back as David Alaba prepares to leave Munich on a free transfer at season's end.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 22-year-old, who has a release clause.

With Bayern determined to bolster their defence, Rummenigge said the German powerhouse are facing serious competition from England for Upamecano.

"In addition to Bayern Munchen, there are at least two quite attractive clubs interested," Rummenigge told Sky in Germany.

"The fact is that the player is interesting, and the fact is that we will almost certainly lose David Alaba at his position. I can't say if there will be other departures at the position," Rummenigge told Sky.

"You have to let things grow in peace. We have a good relationship with Mr. Struth. The player will know what he wants at some point. We have a good relationship with RB Leipzig as well. I have had a conversation with Oliver Mintzlaff. When things become concrete, we'll talk again.

"The fact that Chelsea and Liverpool are also interested in him proves that he has very good qualities. He can replace David Alaba."

Bayern's interest comes as Alaba looks set to swap the Bundesliga champions for LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

Barcelona have also emerged as a possible destination for the 28-year-old, but Rummenigge hinted at a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

"I am 99.9 per cent sure Alaba will leave the club at the end of this season," Rummenigge added. "We will part in a friendly way and I hope he can say goodbye to us with more titles.

"He is fully committed to us and he is a nice guy that we all like. He deserves to be treated well until his last day at Bayern.

"David can sign for the club he wants. I do not know if he will arrive at an agreement with Real Madrid, but it is a great club and I can understand that it is interesting for him."

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Southampton have signed Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Liverpool sanctioned a deadline-day temporary move for Japanese star Minamino on Monday after Southampton allowed Shane Long to join promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth on loan.

Minamino has made 31 appearances and scored four goals for Premier League champions Liverpool since arriving from Austrian giants Salzburg in January last year.

The 26-year-old Japan international has scored one goal in nine Premier League matches this season, and four across all competitions.

"I am very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season," said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

"He will help provide another good attacking option, and is importantly the right profile of player for us.

"This will give us some additional depth in our squad at an important time, and I am looking forward to beginning work with him on the training pitch."

Southampton are 11th in the Premier League, 11 points behind third-placed Liverpool – who are four points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

Liverpool have made their second defensive signing of transfer deadline day by bringing in Ozan Kabak from Schalke on loan.

The 20-year-old has joined the Premier League champions until the end of this season, subject to international clearance.

His move follows the arrival at Anfield earlier on Monday of fellow central defender Ben Davies from Championship side Preston North End for a reported £1.6m.

Kabak started his career with Galatasaray before joining Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart in January 2019.

He was unable to prevent his new side from suffering relegation and was duly snapped up by Schalke after they activated the €15m release clause in his contract. 

He impressed across 28 appearances in all competitions last season, but he has struggled this term with Schalke sitting rock bottom of the Bundesliga after just one win in 19 games. 

They let in a whopping 38 goals in Kabak's 14 Bundesliga appearances, while the Turkey international conceded the second-highest number of fouls (21) and is the only Schalke player to have been dismissed in the league. 

He did, however, won more duels (99) than any of his team-mates.

Kabak completed his move while still in Germany and will travel to Merseyside later this week.

Jurgen Klopp's side host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday before welcoming league leaders Manchester City to Anfield for a crunch clash this weekend.

Liverpool defender Joel Matip has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury.

Matip sustained the blow, which robs Liverpool of another key player at the back, in their 3-1 win at Tottenham on Thursday.

The Reds were already without long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, with Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips pressed into service at the heart of defence as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-1 on Sunday.

Moves to address the lack of defensive options were made on Monday's transfer deadline day, Liverpool signing Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke until the end of the season.

On Matip's injury, manager Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool's official website: "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 [Heung-min].

"But 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.

"We will wait for him. He has now the rest of this season, then the summer, then the pre-season to get ready again and he will be ready again."

Speaking about Kabak, Klopp added: "He came very young to Germany and everybody was clear he was a massive talent.

"He is only 20 now. He plays in his second club [in Germany]; he is at Schalke and unfortunately they are in a bad position in the moment. For him, I think it's a really good moment to make the move because, like each player in the world, you need a stable team around you and that's what we can deliver.

"We deliver a stable team and you can play your position, you don't have to be 20 with pretty much everything on the pitch and not allowed to make mistakes anymore.

"He's really a big, big talent and we are really looking forward to working with him."

Liverpool have made their second defensive signing of transfer deadline day by bringing in Ozan Kabak from Schalke on loan.

Jurgen Klopp is excited by Ben Davies' potential following his surprise switch from Preston North End, but concedes the move only happened due to Liverpool's injury problems in the centre of defence. 

Davies joined the Premier League champions on Monday in a long-term deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

His arrival goes some way to resolving the Reds' issues in the heart of defence. 

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees, while converted midfielder Fabinho and Joel Matip are struggling with injuries.

That led to Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips pairing up at the back for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

While Klopp admits there is an element of good fortune for Davies that Liverpool came calling, the German does believe he has signed a "quality" player.

"What I like about Ben is it just shows that each situation creates opportunities," the German told Liverpool's official website. 

"I think it's probably clear that in a normal transfer window, without any issues, we would not look at Preston to see if there's a player for us or something like that. It's not really likely. 

"But since we saw him and since our situation got clearer and clearer – the problems we had – when we saw him we got really excited about it and thought: 'Wow.' 

"We see the potential really. We see the quality and we see the potential as well because he's 25 and there's a lot to come for him.

"I love a lot about his play. He's a really good footballer, looks like a proper leader in this Preston team, good in challenges, looks football smart, can play different positions because he played in a back three and a back four and all these things. 

"That makes him really interesting so I'm really looking forward to working with him. I know for him it's an opportunity and I see it exactly the same for us, that it's a really good thing to do."

Premier League champions Liverpool have signed centre-back Ben Davies from Preston North End for a deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old has signed a long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side and could make his debut against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday. 

Davies made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

He cemented his place in the Lilywhites' first team during the 2017-18 campaign, making 35 appearances across all competitions. 

Davies went on to make a further 98 appearances for Alex Neil's side, 19 of which came this season. 

"I'm obviously delighted to be here," he told Liverpool's official website. "It's a huge opportunity.

"Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it and learn off the players [at the club].

"I've never actually been to Anfield and I haven't had a look around yet. I haven't actually walked out of the tunnel yet, so I'm looking forward to that. Just to be in this kind of atmosphere is brilliant."

Davies' arrival at Anfield gives Klopp's some much-needed cover in the centre of defence. 

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho and Joel Matip struggling with injuries, Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips were the centre-back pairing for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

"I want to come in and play games to start with," he added. "I want to get my foot in the door and make myself a Premier League player rather than a Championship player, and then take it from there really.

"I know we've got some top players here and players I can certainly learn from. Once you get your foot in the door then you’re here as well. Hopefully I can take my chance and then move forward with it.

"I'm looking forward to coming in and playing in front of everyone and showing everyone what I can do. I'm sure a lot of fans and people don't know [me], or haven't even seen me play.

"It's definitely an exciting time and I think they'll quite enjoy watching me when I'm playing well."

Premier League champions Liverpool have signed centre-back Ben Davies from Preston North End for a deal reportedly worth £1.6million.

The 25-year-old has signed a long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side and could make his debut against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday. 

Davies made his Preston debut in January 2013 before spending time on loan at York City, Tranmere Rovers, Southport, Newport County and Fleetwood Town. 

He cemented his place in the Lilywhites' first team during the 2017-18 campaign, making 35 appearances across all competitions. 

He went on to make a further 98 appearances for Alex Neil's side, 19 of which have come this season. 

Davies' arrival at Anfield gives Klopp's side some much-needed cover in the heart of defence. 

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho and Joel Matip struggling with injuries, Jordan Henderson and the inexperienced Nat Phillips were the centre-back pairing for Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham.

 

Tottenham lost another battle on the same day as the Royal Rumble and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reached a Premier League landmark he will not be boasting about on Sunday.

Leandro Trossard scored the only goal of the game as Brighton and Hove Albion beat Spurs to ease their relegation fears, inflicting what looks like a finishing move on Jose Mourinho's side in the title race.

Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench for the 100th time in a top-flight game late in Liverpool's 3-1 victory at West Ham, while leaders Manchester City broke a record on Saturday.

With the help of Opta data, we take a look at some of the quirkiest stats from the Premier League action over the weekend.

 

Trossard wrestles the initiative

Tottenham made the journey to the south coast reeling from a painful midweek defeat to Liverpool in which they lost captain Harry Kane to injury.

Trossard delivered the knockout blow at the Amex Stadium, leaving Mourinho's men 11 points behind leaders City in sixth place.

Spurs fans who follow WWE may have been fearing the worst, as they have lost nine times when playing on the same day as the Royal Rumble was staged - more than any English league club.

Edge and Bianca Belair came out on top in the extravaganza at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida after Spurs were seemingly eliminated from the title race.

Sub century for Ox

Midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Divock Origi 10 minutes from time in the Reds' victory at previously in-form West Ham.

The former Arsenal man became the 15th player to make 100 top-flight appearances off the bench.

Peter Crouch (158) did so on the most occasions, with Oxlade-Chamberlain's team-mate James Milner (154) second on the list and Jermain Defoe (149) completing the top three.

Happy new year for irrepressible City

City extended their winning streak to 12 matches at the expense of bottom side Sheffield United on Saturday, Gabriel Jesus scoring the only goal of the game.

Pep Guardiola's side will take some stopping in their bid to regain the title, as they lead neighbours Manchester United by three points with a game in hand.

That early strike from Jesus made it nine wins out of nine for City in January, more than any side has achieved in a calendar month since the formation of the Football League in 1888.

Shot-shy Clarets

Chelsea eased to their first win under Thomas Tuchel on Sunday, seeing off Burnley 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The Clarets arrived in London on a three-match winning run, including a shock 1-0 triumph at Anfield and a 3-2 thriller against Aston Villa.

Sean Dyche's men barely laid a glove on Chelsea, though, and went the longest any side has gone without an attempt at goal in the Premier League this season.

They looked set to become the first team not to have an attempt in a game since Bournemouth against Manchester City in March 2019 until James Tarkowski's header in stoppage time. Better late than never? Dyche might not see it that way.

Gary Neville is ready to accept the "fun" of watching Liverpool struggle appears to be over, though the former Manchester United defender always expected Jurgen Klopp's side to rediscover their form. 

The reigning champions endured a five-match winless Premier League run to slip off the pace, a dip that allowed rivals United to briefly go top of the table. 

However, while the Red Devils have managed to take just a solitary point from their previous two outings – including suffering a shock home loss to bottom club Sheffield United – Liverpool have reeled off successive wins in London. 

The Reds still sit four points behind in-form leaders Manchester City – who also have a game in hand – but Neville is not surprised to see Klopp right the ship and get Liverpool back on course, even if it does mean an end to his "two or three-week party" during their recent slump.

"I don't think any of us ever thought Liverpool were out of the title race in the last few weeks," Neville said during his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"I may have had a bit of fun, let's be clear, watching them drop points in those midweek games and seeing United go top of the league. It's been a two or three-week party but that's what I felt it was. 

"I felt it was just a two or three-week party. I thought it would come to an end at some point and that Liverpool would resume their form. 

"I don't think United necessarily had to fall away but I thought Liverpool would come back and that they would get over this blip. They have got too good a coach and they have got too good a squad." 

Liverpool won 3-1 at West Ham on Sunday less than 72 hours after triumphing by the same scoreline against Tottenham in the capital. Jordan Henderson played both games at centre-back due to injuries, albeit the Reds may be set to add to their defensive options before the transfer window closes. 

Neville has been impressed at how, despite the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Klopp has not seen the need to adjust the way his team plays to accommodate those coming into the starting XI. 

The Reds host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday before leaders City visit Anfield at the weekend, a huge clash for both clubs and their respective hopes in the title race.

"Well done to Liverpool because whereby they have got different personnel in those positions, their structure is still the same," Neville said.

"They are still pushing up the pitch, they are still playing that high line, pressing the game, they are still compact from back to front and they are still sustaining attacks. 

"They are doing the same things even though they have different personnel, and that's credit to the players, credit to the coach and I have to say, they have been decimated with injuries to some of their best players. 

"They have had big problems and yet they are overcoming it. If they can beat Brighton in midweek, which, no disrespect to Brighton, they should do at home, then we have got a real cracker next Sunday against Manchester City."

Will he stay or will he go?

That is the question regarding Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is a reported target for Real Madrid and Liverpool.

If Mbappe opts to call time on his PSG stall, the French champions are still aiming high.

 

TOP STORY – LIFE WITHOUT MBAPPE IN PARIS?

Paris Saint-Germain are more determined than ever to give head coach Mauricio Pochettino a dream forward line amid doubts over Kylian Mabppe's future, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League holders Liverpool.

If Mbappe does not remain in Paris, PSG will step up their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri has turned down Roma as he waits for Madrid, repots Todofichajes. Zinedine Zidane is under mounting pressure in the Spanish capital, while it is a similar situation for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Manchester City are willing to sign a striker and Messi this offseason, according to The Athletic. With City yet to offer Sergio Aguero a new deal, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter pair Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are reported targets as Pep Guardiola's side also eye soon-to-be free agent Messi.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool have agreed to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End ahead of Monday's deadline day. Jurgen Klopp has been eyeing a defender due to the club's injury crisis.

Dele Alli's proposed switch from Tottenham to PSG is not progressing, reports Romano. Struggling for game time at Spurs, Alli has been keen for a loan move to PSG, but Tottenham are unwilling to sanction a departure as Inter block Christian Eriksen's return.

Leicester City are the frontrunners to sign Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, claims The Mirror.

Jurgen Klopp has lauded his Liverpool side for once again making life "uncomfortable" for their opponents following a 3-1 win at West Ham on Sunday. 

The defending Premier League champions ended a five-match winless run in the top flight by beating Tottenham 3-1 on Thursday and they followed that up with another impressive victory in London.

Mohamed Salah took his Premier League tally against West Ham to nine – his best return against a side in the competition – with a fine double, while Georginio Wijnaldum's late effort ensured all three points against David Moyes' side, who scored a consolation through Craig Dawson.

The win moves the Reds to four points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and Klopp is pleased his players are starting to find their form after a tricky period.

"These boys are a really good group," he told Sky Sports. "They're not happy at not being successful, not winning, but they always have the right attitude.

"But they need the right information as well; I said that after the Burnley game [when they lost 1-0], that was my fault.

"Now we have found a way for us to be uncomfortable for other teams. Our last two games were like this."

The result means Liverpool have won more Premier League matches against West Ham (31) then they have against any other side in the competition, while they have lost just one of their past 16 Premier League games in London.

All of the Reds' goals came in the second period, with Klopp attributing their revival to a series of half-time tweaks.

"It was a great game, a very professional game, very controlled against usually a flying side," he added.

"We didn't create enough in the first half, but we controlled the game. We made little adjustments at half-time and it paid off. We scored three unbelievable goals. I'm really happy.

"In the first half we had three midfielders on the other side of the ball so Xherdan Shaqiri had to pass backwards. We wanted Divock Origi more in the centre. We played a double 10 then with Thiago [Alcantara] and Shaqiri."

Liverpool welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Anfield on Wednesday before Pep Guardiola's City travel to Merseyside on Sunday.

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