It’s fair to say that not many would have expected the start to the season that Liverpool have endured so far. Jurgen Klopp’s men have only won three times in eight matches so far in 2022/23, with two wins coming in the Premier League and the other being the Community Shield victory over Manchester City.
It’s not a crisis yet, but the German needs to inject some much-needed spark into his team, or otherwise it could be a season to forget for the Reds.
Much of the club’s summer transfer business was done early, adding Darwin Nunez, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsey into the squad, before a rushed deadline day move for a midfielder concluded in Liverpool signing Arthur Melo on loan from Juventus for the rest of the season.
It later transpired that FSG had failed in a deadline day move for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, and he could well have been the answer to Klopp’s stagnating midfield.
The 24-year-old was also wanted by Arsenal in the summer transfer window, with the Midlands club rejecting three bids from the Gunners for the player, while an unnamed Premier League side made a £30m offer in January which was also rejected.
Missing out on Luiz could be hurting Klopp as the season progresses, with the midfield seemingly running out of ideas (and usable options) and James Milner coming in for particularly strong criticism for his performances of late.
With a SofaScore rating of just 6.62 in the league, his contributions have been minimal in the six matches that he has played. The 36-year-old has taken just 35.2 touches per match, been dribbled past 1.7 times and won only 31% of his total duels.
Luiz has a slightly better rating of 6.76 from SofaScore but has contributed more to a struggling Villa team than Milner has to Liverpool. The Brazilian has scored once (an audacious goal straight from a corner kick against Arsenal) and has an average of 33.4 touches per match, having played one game fewer than the Reds veteran.
Luiz’s strength in the middle of the park has seen the 24-year-old dribbled past just 0.4 times per match while also winning a higher percentage of total duels (33%), and he surely would have been a better option for Klopp than the ageing Milner.
Indeed, former Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor described the Brazilian as “outstanding” following his strong finish to the 2021/22 campaign.
Possessing the ability to dictate play and keep things safe in the middle of the park is something that Luiz would bring in abundance, and that is exactly what Klopp needs at this moment in time in a position where his team are struggling.