Jamie Redknapp feels that Liverpool would only just sneak into the Premier League top four if they lost Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
The Sky Sports expert made the comments following Manchester City’s 3-2 loss to Norwich City on Saturday, in which the English champions suffered without centre-back Aymeric Laporte – who is out injured with a knee injury until the new year.
Redknapp believes the City defender’s absence gives Liverpool the upper hand in the title race, as it would be devastating blow to the Reds if the UEFA Player of the Year was taken out of their defence.
“This, for me, makes Liverpool favourites now; they’re five points ahead and there’s still an enormous amount of time to go,” Redknapp said on Sky Sports.
“Sorry I keep saying it, but you’ve got a six-month injury to one of your best players. It’s the equivalent of taking Virgil van Dijk out of [the] Liverpool back four, for me.
“That’s what we’ve seen today. If you take Van Dijk out of Liverpool, it’s a team that just scraped into the top four. You put him in the team… 97 points [in the league] last year, win the Champions League.
“That’s how big of a difference that Laporte makes to Man City as well.”
"If you take Van Dijk out of Liverpool they will just about scrape in to the top four"
Jamie Redknapp believes Aymeric Laporte's injury means Man City are no longer favourites for the Premier League
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 14, 2019
Prior to the defeat at the Canaries, Man City boss Pep Guardiola ruled out bringing in defensive reinforcements to cover Laporte when the transfer window opened in January.
With the departure of skipper Vincent Kompany in the off-season, City only have two senior central defenders fit in John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi after they failed to sign a replacement in the summer.
Guardiola backed experienced central midfielder Fernandinho to possibly deputise in defence, while also mentioning youngsters Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis as additional options.
“I would like to say to all the clubs in the world don’t be nervous, because we are not interested in any players or central defenders in Europe,” Guardiola said.
“We are going to survive with the players we have. Maybe in December we are going to start to think about it, maybe. But we could not invest in this situation in the summer, we cannot do it in the winter.
“I’m pretty sure the young players will [play well] too, what I know from pre-season with Taylor Harwood-Bellis and especially Eric Garcia. Fernandinho with his quality can play there. So we’re going to move on.”