Liverpool made Deadline Day move for Preston centre-back Ben Davies; Sky Sports EFL pundit Keith Andrews believes it is a similar move to the one Manchester United made for Odion Ighalo last year.
Monday 1 February 2021 22:56, UK
Liverpool have signed Preston's Ben Davies in an attempt to solve their defensive injury crisis.
It is often tough to be noticed if you are playing for a club competing away from the top end of the Championship for automatic promotion, but the feeling among most observers is that Davies would have been a Premier League player with one club or another sooner or later. That is not to say that anyone predicted that Liverpool would be the club to come in for him!
While it is easier for fans of big clubs to get excited about some more exciting names from abroad, it is worth remembering that some very good Premier League centre-backs have worked their way up from the EFL. James Tarkowski, Harry Maguire, Ezri Konsa and Rob Holding are just a few names that come to mind to have established themselves firmly in the top flight. Ben Davies, aged 25, could easily find his way among that roster in the coming months and years.
While the move has come as a surprise, Liverpool fans have come to implicitly trust sporting director Michael Edwards, Jurgen Klopp and Co when it comes to both in and outgoings in recent seasons, so they should have every faith that even a less glamourous arrival will prove worthwhile.
He certainly strengthens Liverpool's side in the short term, and could well prove invaluable in the long run, too. Even after the likes of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk return.
Sky Sports EFL pundit Keith Andrews:
"For where Liverpool are now I think it makes absolute sense. You can maybe liken it to something like the Odion Ighalo signing by Manchester United last year. It's a stop-gap to a point, but within that, you've got an opportunity as a player to stake a claim. It's a chance of a lifetime for Ben Davies.
"The only thing I would say is I think there is a snobbery in football that the big clubs don't look down that far, traditionally. Usually, Davies would have to go to a lower Premier League team and prove himself there, maybe akin to what James Tarkowski has done after his lower-league exploits. He has gone to Burnley and established himself there, and easily could have gone on to bigger and better in the last 12-18 months, and I'm sure there have been offers.
"I'm genuinely delighted for him because he has absolutely earned this. He has been at Preston from about 10 or 11 years old. He's had countless loan moves, some to non-league, and been willing to do the hard yards in football to get to this level.
"He's also a very good footballer in terms of ability. Liverpool have a lot of possession and that won't faze him. Defensively he'll be coming up against far more talented players so it will be a test for him, but I hope he does well."
"Having been with the club since he was 11 years old, Ben Davies has gone from a boy to one of the best centre backs in the Championship whilst at Preston - with stops at York, Southport, Tranmere and Fleetwood along the way.
"Since Alex Neil took charge at Deepdale in 2017, Davies has been an indispensable member of our defence, whether that was playing on the left of a back three of or the left of two centre backs.
"He's elegant, cool, calm and collected - coasting through games in the Championship recently, to the point Alex Neil said: 'He really is [a top player]. I'll be honest I go into most games thinking 'I've got a 9/10 at left centre back, what are the other lads going to give me?' His consistency levels are excellent.'
"If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about Davies and his attitude, still playing to near his maximum despite being out of contract in the summer, I don't know what else there is to say.
"He's no slouch, either. He's pacey and his ability to bring the ball out from the back is close to being unrivalled in the Championship, in my opinion. He reads the game incredibly well and add to the fact he's left-footed and can also play in a back three if needed, makes him a versatile option for the Reds.
"He was always going to leave this season. It was just a case of whether or not he would see out and leave on a free in the summer or join Celtic this window in a cut-price deal. But Liverpool have swooped in at the death."
Sky Sports News' Mark McAdam on Good Morning Transfers:
"Ben Davies was the subject of a £4m Bournemouth bid back in the summer that was rejected - Preston wanted £10m and there wasn't a second bid. Several clubs were interested in him from the Championship - a couple of Premier League clubs too - but he decided to stay. The money wasn't on the table, the club needed him.
"He's been a rock at the back, he's good in the air. He reads the game so well.
"Everything about this deal makes sense for Liverpool.
"Even if he isn't the player Liverpool want him or need him to be, is he going to leave them for less than £2m in the summer or in 18 months' time? They're going to make money on him and at 25, he's still got so much footballing development ahead of him.
"What an opportunity for him."
The winter transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday, February 1, and Sky Sports will bring you all the drama as clubs scramble to get the final pieces of business over the line.
Head to Sky Sports News - channel 409 - for breaking news, reaction and analysis throughout the day from studio guests such as Harry Redknapp, Fabrizio Romano, Lianne Sanderson, David James, Darren Bent, Paul Merson and Alan Smith.
Our Transfer Centre blog will bring you all the latest developments across the leagues from 6am.