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Liverpool already have Keita replacement in James Balagizi

Liverpool are in desperate need of a refresh in the centre of the pitch and after the worst start to a Premier League season under Jurgen Klopp, a few changes in the team could be the solution to getting the club back to where they belong, battling for titles and winning trophies.

Next summer both Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out of contract, whilst Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Thiago Alcantara are all in the latter stages of their career, so identifying players who can boost the midfield presence with more energy and quality is essential over the coming months.

Liverpool are already reportedly leading the race to sign Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham next summer but with a price tag of £131.6m, it could certainly take a large wedge of FSG’s transfer budget to secure the signing.

As a result, the powers at Anfield could look deeper into the squad and into the rising stars that have been coming through the academy, in order to potentially save millions on their midfield refurbishments.

One player who has been developing since joining the Reds academy in the U11s from Premier League champions and league rivals Manchester City is James Balagizi.

The talented and versatile 19-year-old has played in a number of roles on the pitch as he finds his feet in professional football with appearances in the attacking and central midfield positions, as well as out wide on the flanks too.

Balagizi is currently on loan with League Two side Crawley Town and is thriving in the team, with two goals and one assist. Not just a dab hand offensively, he’s been superb in defensive situations too, making 1.2 interceptions, 1.6 tackles and winning 3.1 duels per game over nine appearances so far, proving that he is clearly a threat worth watching for Klopp.

The English ace has been the recipient of high praise for his performances with a scout telling Blood Red Podcast that Balagizi could be compared to Yaya Toure. He commented:

“He’s a dynamic player who can assist build from the back with his passing abilities. He can push his team ahead with strong surging runs with the ball if he is played as an eight. He can be a great menace in the box as a ten.

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“His play is identical to Yaya Toure’s, even down to how he covers his hands with his sleeves while playing, and he has a languid, fluid running style.”

With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Balagizi develops and if he continues to be a standout performer with Crawley over his loan, and could even become the star replacement for Keita should he leave the club this time next year.