After the important rebuild process in midfield at Liverpool over the summer, the Reds can be content with the players they have brought in. Perhaps just one midfielder short of the perfect setup with Jürgen Klopp needing perhaps one more holding midfielder, overall one cannot deny the Reds’ midfield has gotten a lot stronger.

But the recruitment team will not be sitting back now. As one part of Klopp’s new Liverpool 2.0 has seemingly been established, another part is now in need of a similar refurbishment.

According to The Athletic, Liverpool will be focusing on bringing in acquisitions to rebuild the defense next summer. With some of Klopp’s options not getting any younger and others having expiring contracts like Joël Matip, the time next summer will be ripe to focus on the matter at hand.

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One of the biggest challenges for the Reds will undoubtedly be a similar challenge to the one they faced this summer. Just like Liverpool needed to find a long-term replacement for club captain Jordan Henderson this summer, next summer the priority should be to find a similar player to succeed Virgil van Dijk’s left-sided center-back position in the future.

Van Dijk will be 33 years old next year, and his form has been more mixed at times this season and the season before compared to the consistent performances he had produced prior to that. The Reds probably won’t want to sell him on just yet, as was the case with Henderson, but if the right player is available it should be a priority for Liverpool to bring in a left-sided center-back who is comfortable on the ball and who can challenge Van Dijk’s first team role.

And one player who could be perfect for the role is Red Bull Salzburg’s Serbian defender Strahinja Pavlović. A left-footed defender who stands at a towering height of 1.94m (6ft 4in) Pavlović is composed on the ball and is crucially left-footed, which on paper makes him a suitable candidate to succeed Van Dijk in the first place.

Liverpool transfer Strahinja Pavlović
Liverpool should transfer target Strahinja Pavlović.

But there is much more to him scratching below the surface. First off, Pavlović has the recovery speed to be capable of playing in a high line. He’s done that for Salzburg plenty of times and would have no problem settling into a similar system at Liverpool. On top of that, just like Van Dijk, he has a knack for being adept at switching possession. His long balls have been the key both for Serbia at international level and for Salzburg as well.

Being the same height as Van Dijk, Pavlović is also strong in the air and an aerial threat in the box from set-pieces. Recently, he scored at the World Cup and also netted in his last game for Serbia against Hungary. And since arriving at Salzburg, he has nine goal contributions in 45 games.

He simply ticks a lot of boxes and, at 22 years old, he is still very young, especially for center-backs who tend to bloom later on in their careers. Liverpool replaced Henderson last summer with a Red Bull player in Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig. Perhaps this summer, Klopp and his recruitment can pull off the same trick with Pavlović and Van Dijk. Given Liverpool’s track record of signing Red Bull players, it certainly would not be a surprise.