Not much is concrete in football, especially with the game being shaped by the Covid pandemic - financially, scheduling-wise, in terms of the availability of players and with regards to the January transfer window as the underwhelming start to it has illustrated.
There are still bankers, though. Such as: it is imperative for Liverpool to strengthen at centre-back. As The Independent has previously detailed, the position has been at the forefront of the club’s thinking both before and after the signing of Virgil van Dijk.
Their current situation, with no fit senior centre-halves and holding midfielder Fabinho serving as the rearguard’s anchor, has emphasised the necessity of ensuring greater availability in the department.
That was already established as neither Joe Gomez nor Joel Matip have been able to partner Van Dijk for a large swathe of a season given injury issues, but the absence of the ever-reliable Dutchman has magnified the holes at the back.
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba - out of contract this summer - has been heavily linked with Liverpool, but he is expected to join Real Madrid if there can be a reduction in his wage demands.
The figure he is after is reported to be around £12m a campaign after tax, which would further complicate stalled talks with Sergio Ramos over an extension at the Bernabeu.
Liverpool did hold talks with Alaba’s camp last year, in part for comparative purposes as they worked on a deal to bring Thiago to Anfield.
The pair were in a similar situation: high earners, pedigreed top achievers, certain to exit Bayern with their contracts running out.
Ascertaining Alaba’s personal terms and valuation were helpful in drafting a bid for and a proposal to Thiago.
While the defender’s skillset and versatility is appreciated by Liverpool, he is understood to be too small - his height is 1.8m in comparison to Van Dijk (1.93m), Matip (1.95m), Gomez (1.88m) - and not strong enough aerially for their requirements at centre-back.
The Merseysiders had conviction in investing big in Thiago and Diogo Jota despite the constraints of the pandemic as their attributes were viewed as essential in giving the team a new dimension. While significant injuries have curtailed the impact of both players, the wisdom of recruiting them cannot be questioned.
Any attraction to plumping for Alaba as well disappeared when Kostas Tsimikas was brought in to deputise for Andy Robertson.
Liverpool’s thinking was that the appeal for signing a player of his age and salary, who didn’t quite fit their centre-back profile, was that he could operate at left fullback too.
As with Jurgen Klopp's other summer signings ahead of this season, Tsimikas’ impact at the Anfield side has been thwarted.
He has only started three games due to injury problems and needing to quarantine, which feeds into the manager's recent assertion that even if a new face is sourced in the market this month “will it sort all our problems? For a game or two and then he could be injured as well.”
The complication of the January window has been discussed, but when Liverpool do buy a centre-back, it will be their intention that the player ultimately replaces Matip.
Club sources say there are no designs on recruiting around the age of 30 for the position and that a move for Alaba is “a hard no.”
Liverpool's defensive crisis has been impeding their offensive play and there is an acceptance and understanding that it is a risk not to make a move this month - not for a lack of trying.
There is also the acknowledgment that a mid-season signing, without proper training time to bed in and feeling instant expectation and pressure, also offers no guarantees.
Not much is concrete in football, but there are still bankers: it is imperative for Liverpool to strengthen at centre-back.