Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been advised to stage a complete overhaul of his defence during the January transfer window and make Virgil van Dijk among the four additions to his back-line.

The Reds have already shipped 16 Premier League goals this season – only Watford have conceded more outside of the bottom five – in what has been an ominous start to both their title challenge and hope of re-qualifying for the Champions League.

Tottenham Hotspur further exposed their problems at the back in the 4-1 win at Wembley over the weekend, with Liverpool's first choice centre-back pair Dejan Lovren, who was replaced in the first half, and Joel Matip terrorised by Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Klopp has attempted to deflect criticism away from his defence, which he failed to substantially add to during the summer transfer window. Left-back Andrew Robertson arrived from Hull City but his outings have been rare during the early months of his Anfield career.

Van Dijk was one of the few defenders pursued by Liverpool in the summer but the Netherlands centre-back remained at Southampton despite handing in a transfer request.

One of the Merseysiders' few successes of the off-season saw them retain Philippe Coutinho amid interest from Barcelona, but former full-back Steve Nicol believes Liverpool may have to accept the €150m the Catalans are ready to offer in a renewed bid in January to finance a defensive renovation.

"I think now they have to go all out and buy themselves a back four," he told ESPN. "The problem is they're going to have to overpay but if they don't do it they're not getting anywhere near the top four. I think Barcelona would still buy him [Coutinho] for €150m. The problem I have is Liverpool having to go and buy a back four, they're going to have to pay over the odds because it's January.

"How can anyone rationally turn around and say 'I trust Klopp to go and buy a defender'. Since he has come into the club they aren't any better than when he started. The Liverpool board are going to have to decide if they bring someone in, and a goalkeeper, to spot a defender.

Another ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson agrees with Nicol and feels the club need not one, but four Van Dijks to ensure they are not left behind both domestically and in Europe.

"You have got to be pessimist when you are defender," he told the Liverpool Echo. "You expect your partner to miss everything, your goalkeeper to drop everything and your left-back is rubbish. It's just the way it is but if you keep rotating then it's difficult to understand the strengths and weaknesses.

"Virtually every player we have got [at the back] isn't quite good enough and that's a real difficult thing as you are not going to replace all of them. I get this Virgil van Dijk all day long, but we need four of them!"

Virgil van Dijk
Van Diojk has been reintegrated at Southampton after missing out on a move to Liverpool. Getty Images