Liverpool’s ‘only solution’ to Virgil van Dijk problem identified by Paul Merson

Liverpool have to “rely on the front three scoring” to cover up for the gap left by Virgil van Dijk’s injury, says Paul Merson.

The Reds are battling to find a replacement for the Dutchman within their squad after he picked up an ACL tear in the Merseyside derby that is expected to keep him out for most of the season.

With Fabinho stepping into defence well, his injury in the Champions League means Jurgen Klopp has been looking into the reserves.

But Merson, who won two First Division titles with Arsenal, believes the answer to Liverpool’s problems is further up the pitch.

Speaking to Sky Sports , the former forward said: “I think it’s difficult for them to stay at the standard they were at [without van Dijk].

“The name of the game at the moment is to keep winning football matches.

“I think it’s so open this year and they’ve got Man City coming up as well as taking on [Leicester forward Jamie] Vardy.

“I think they’ll have to outscore teams.

“I just don’t see how they’ll be able to keep clean sheets against the quality they’re coming up against.

“If [Jordan] Henderson goes back there, it’s hard enough for a normal centre-back to keep Beardy quiet.

“For me, it’s relying on the front three to score goals and I think Liverpool will be the team to watch.

“Klopp will say ‘we don’t have a lot of defenders, so let’s outscore teams’.”

Liverpool will be able to dip into the transfer market in January as they look for a van Dijk replacement – and it has seen Klopp draw up a shortlist.

While they have also been making enquiries about Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has given a stance on his future.

"I love Naples and Naples loves me, that's the most important thing," the 29-year-old told Sky Sports after Thursday's 1-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad.

"I always make myself available game after game, I still have three years of contract, I'm calm, the teams are looking for me but I'm still here.

“I play at my level and I help this team and these people because I want to give something back to them then we'll see what happens.”

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