After months of sticking to their guns, panic stations have suddenly set in at Liverpool.
Despite Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez being effectively ruled out for the season, the reigning champions were confident they could survive with their current options.
But an injury to Joel Matip on Thursday has proved to be the final straw.
With Fabinho also ruled out of Sunday’s clash with West Ham, Liverpool now have youngster Rhys Williams and fringe man Nat Phillips as the only fit recognised centre-backs in their squad.
Captain Jordan Henderson will almost certainly be deputising alongside one of them until Fabinho returns, but the clock is now ticking on Liverpool to find a replacement.
With Monday’s transfer deadline looming large, here’s the current state of play at Anfield.
In an ideal world, Jurgen Klopp would be welcoming a new long-term target into his ranks this month to solve all of his problems.
Sadly for him, January is a far from ideal month.
Even more so when your preferred targets play for the very team you are facing in the next round of the Champions League.
Red Bull Leipzig duo Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate are top of Klopp’s wish-list, but there is pretty much zero chance of either player being sold to Liverpool before the end of the season.
Other players have been on the Reds’ radar for some time, such as Brighton’s Ben White, Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, and Lille’s Sven Botman; but all of those would cost in the region of £30million or more – money that is not readily available right now.
Klopp has already admitted Liverpool are hindered by their currently desperate situation.
In a business of supply and demand, it’s hardly a secret Liverpool need a top centre-back now.
That has understandably put all other clubs on stand-by braced for an approach for one of their stars.
And they know they can hold Liverpool’s owners FSG to ransom.
“You know the clubs where the centre-halves are playing, because everyone is talking about them,” Klopp said. “Tell me if one of these clubs needs the money and needs to sell a player?
“And if they need money then they want crazy money.”
The coronavirus pandemic has already hit Liverpool’s finances as hard as any other club, and the ongoing lack of fans continues to do so.
By consequence, a blockbuster signing is out of the question, with Liverpool now forced to shop in the bargain basket or bring someone in on loan.
FSG do of course have money spare which could fund a move for a mid-priced defender.
But even Liverpool’s summer business was done under ‘buy-now, pay-later’ circumstances, with Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara both arriving for minimal initial outlay in structured deals loaded with future installments.
Another deal of that manner is of course possible, but they are complex in nature, and with less than 72 hours left to finalise a transfer, Liverpool are running out of time.
With options limited, it’s a case of needs-must for Liverpool now, and more about just getting a body in than perhaps someone they were hoping to ingrain into their squad for seasons to come.
The trouble is, it’s not quite that simple.
“You can imagine that we think about everything,” Klopp has said. “Of course, we thought the whole time, we think the whole time. It’s about doing the right thing.
“I’m not picky or whatever but we need to find the right player.”
That player, it seems, could be Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi.
Mustafi does have his pitfalls. Arsenal are getting rid of him after all.
But the German would be a cheap solution and bring plenty of top-flight and international experience to Liverpool’s dressing room.
Another option is New York Red Bulls star Aaron Long, who ESPN report Liverpool are keen on signing on loan.
The 2018 MLS defender of the year has attracted interest from English clubs previously, and Liverpool’s close links with the Red Bull franchise would help negotiations run smoothly.
Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards has proven his excellent transfer acumen in the past and is now under pressure to pull another rabbit out of the hat.
The question is: will it be before the deadline?
Who should Liverpool sign before Monday’s deadline? Have your say below.