Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car has confirmed that he turned down an offer to join Liverpool during the January transfer window, describing it as an ‘honour’ all the same.
A worsening centre-back crisis forced a reluctant Liverpool into the transfer market at the very end of the January window. Caleta-Car was rumoured to be a deadline day target and the player himself has revealed he was genuinely pursued by the Premier League champions.
Having allowed Dejan Lovren to leave last summer without replacing him, Liverpool had always intended to start recruiting for the long-term at centre-back in the summer of 2021. But major injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez gave the Reds a problem.
Even then, however, Jurgen Klopp and the board agreed to push through until they could better assess their needs in the summer. But losing Jordan Henderson from midfield to cover at the back and then seeing Joel Matip also succumb to an injury that was later confirmed to be season-ending, forced Liverpool into action sooner than they had anticipated.
24-year-old Caleta-Car, who joined Marseille from Red Bull Salzburg in 2018, was one of the options under consideration. But the Croatian agreed with his club he would remain in France.
“I received an offer from Liverpool,” Caleta-Car is quoted as saying by Goal. “It was an honour for me to know that such a club wanted me. We decided with the club that I was going to stay. Marseille is also a great club and I still have a lot of improving to do here.”
Instead, Liverpool completed a deal to sign Ben Davies from Preston for an initial £500,000, as well as a £1.5m loan for 20-year-old Schalke starlet Ozan Kabak, with option to buy for £18m.
Jurgen Klopp has been reluctant to throw his new centre-backs straight into action while they adapt to their new surroundings. Davies hasn’t been selected for a matchday squad since being named on the bench for the loss against Brighton at the start of the month. Kabak, meanwhile, was given his chance against Leicester and was left embarrassed by Alisson’s costly error in a 3-1 defeat.
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