10 defensive midfield options for Liverpool if Fabinho and Henderson leave – Liverpool FC

In a chaotic few hours, Liverpool faced the possibility of losing both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia – so who would replace them?

Liverpool have reached an important point in the season, they have added two midfielders to their ranks, but now face losing two of their most senior players in the position.

Henderson has agreed a three-year deal to join Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq, but no deal has yet been agreed between the two clubs, while Fabinho is expected to be the subject of a £40m bid from Al Ittihad.

There is plenty for Jurgen Klopp and Co. to weigh up, and if they did one or both, they need to make sure they have the right replacement(s) ready to make the move.

So here’s a look at 10 possible options.

Aurelien Tchouameni

Age: 23
Association: Real Madrid

Have we been linked before? Yes, to a great extent! Last summer, Liverpool tried to sign the Frenchman before he moved to Real Madrid.

“The first [club] to come forward was Liverpool, we had discussions. Then Real arrived,” explained Tchouameni.

“We went for a midfielder but the midfielder decided to go to another club,” Klopp said last August.

Since then, there has been speculation that Liverpool could go back for the player following Real’s signing of Jude Bellingham.

With Modric, Kroos, Camavinga, Valverde and Bellingham, he certainly faces competition in Madrid.

How good is he? Much. You know that, Jurgen knows that! He would definitely be an upgrade even on Fabinho.

Suitability? 10/10

Teun Koopmeiners

CARDIFF, WALES - Wednesday 8 June 2022: Netherlands' Teun Koopmeiners (#20) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Nations League Group A4 match between Wales and Netherlands at Cardiff City Stadium.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 25
Association: Atalanta

Have we been linked before? Yes – as recently as April, the Dutchman was name-checked as a possible option for the club this summer.

It’s no surprise that Liverpool have been described as admirers of the 25-year-old, who has plenty to like.

How good is he? An impressive central midfielder who has the traits to cover a range of roles in the middle of the pitch.

He can break up play and help his defense while offering a goalscoring threat, a polished contributor who has the defensive skills to play in the Premier League.

Suitability? 8/10

Moses Caicedo

2JJ65BW Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo during a pre-season friendly at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, Reading.  Picture date: Saturday 23 July 2022.

Age: 21
Association: Brighton

Have we been linked before? If Liverpool weren’t, you’d be worried. We’ve been keeping an eye, but the price tag is consistently mentioned as being prohibitive. But if you want the right player for years to come, you have to be prepared to pay for them.

How good is he? Let’s put it this way, Liverpool should do everything they can to get him. He can inject instant quality into the midfield, a game-changer that doesn’t come along very often.

Suitability? 10/10

Ibrahim Sangare

2K6E3R8 EINDHOVEN - Ibrahim Sangare of PSV Eindhoven celebrates the 3-0 victory during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between PSV Eindhoven and FC Zurich at Phillips Stadium on October 13, 2022 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.  ANP OLAF KRAAK

Age: 25
Association: PSV Eindhoven

Have we been linked before? When news of Tchouameni agreeing a deal with Real Madrid broke last June, it was reported that Liverpool scouts had tracked Sangare.

He was said to be “firmly in the sights” of the Reds, with his attributes matching nicely with Tchouamenis.

How good is he? He is predominantly a defensive midfielder, which Liverpool would need if Fabinho left, and crucially he would be affordable.

Nottingham Forest are interested and his price is reportedly in the region of £30 million. He is comfortable on the ball, strong in the air and adept at handling his lines.

Is direct in his game and is especially in his prime. Something Liverpool lacked in the position last season.

Suitability? 8/10

Khephren Thuram

2PMR441 Basel, St.  Jakobs Park, Switzerland.  13th April 2023. UEFA Europa Conference League: FC Basel - OGC Nice, #19 Khephren Thuram (Nice) controls the ball (Photo by Daniela Porcelli/Just Pictures/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Age: 23
Association: Nice

Have we been linked before? All summer! A deal looked very likely, but then we signed Dominik Szoboszlai and cooled our interest in Thuram.

How good is he? Lots of potential, but definitely not a finished product. He’s not really a defensive midfielder either, he’s played there but not much so it would be pretty rough.

Suitability? 6/10

Romeo Lavia

Southampton's Romeo Lavia celebrates scoring their team's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.  Picture date: Tuesday, August 30, 2022 (Steven Paston/PA)

Age: 19
Association: Southampton

Have we been linked before? His name has been constant mentioned since the Reds completed the deals for Mac Allister and Szoboszlai! The interest is certainly there, but without any firm movement in starting discussions with Southampton.

How good is he? There’s plenty of potential, but at 19, he might not be someone you want to throw in right away and rely on so much.

He lacks the experience Liverpool typically look for in younger signings, but he will qualify as a home-grown player in the future, making him a very attractive prospect.

However, Lavia ticks many boxes. He is quick to the challenge, comfortable under pressure and hard to beat in a challenge. Sounds good doesn’t it! The ideal Fabinho successor.

Suitability? 8/10

Bird of paradise

Manu Kone (France U21) (Image: Maurizio Borsari/AFLO/Alamy Live News)

Age: 23
Association: Gladbach

Have we been linked before? Quite a lot, although it has cooled significantly in recent weeks.

Talks took place with his representatives but we haven’t heard any more since he injured his knee while with France at the U21 European Championship – that’s to see him on the sidelines for six weeks.

How good is he? At 22, he is a mainstay in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s midfield and has two years of experience behind him.

A promising young player who breaks up the game and gets his team forward – the concern will be his injury history, Liverpool don’t need any more of that in midfield!

Suitability? 8/10

João Straw

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday 6 August 2022: Fulham's João Palhinha during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage.  The match ended in a draw 2-2.  (Image by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 28
Association: Fulham

Have we been linked before? Back in March, Liverpool were credited with “serious” interest, but we haven’t heard anything since.

How good is he? He has plenty of experience, but at 28 he doesn’t fit the long-term profile Liverpool want if they part with one or two of their veterans.

He’s strong when it comes to the defensive side of the game, but he’s not nearly as impressive as others on this list when it comes to having the ball at his own feet.

Suitability? 5/10

Florentine Louis

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Wednesday 29 September 2021: Benfica supporters before the UEFA Champions League Group E Matchday 2 match between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at Estádio da Luz.  Benfica won 3-0.  (Image by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 23
Association: Benfica

Have we been linked before? Nothing concrete, word from scouts who attended his matches and a mention of “doing checks”, but nothing beyond that.

How good is he? Is technically skilled and his ability to win balls is easily praised, his quick decision making makes him an exciting defensive talent.

Has shown plenty of resilience to emerge as a mainstay for Benfica and, at 23, has plenty to offer now and in the long term.

Suitability? 7/10

Ryan Gravenburch

2NGHBM9 Paris, France - February 14: Ryan Gravenberch of Bayern Munchen thanks supporters for lining up during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Bayern Munchen at Parc des Princes on February 14, 2023 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images) (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Just Pictures/Sipa USA)

Age: 23
Association: Bayern Munich

Have we been linked before? Pretty consistent all summer. Lightly name-checked, but has expressed his desire to fight for his place in Bayern.

How good is he? A versatile midfielder capable of playing in the defensive role, but like Thuram is suited to a more advanced position.

Suitability? 6/10

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