Whilst speaking on The Redmen TV‘s YouTube channel, the Mirror’s David Maddock gave some insight into Liverpool’s transfer dealings this summer and what Jurgen Klopp and co might be looking for.
Maddock revealed that the Champions League winners will find it tough in the market this summer due to the fact their statistical analysis in signing players has proven fruitful, meaning that other clubs will reexamine the value of their assets when Liverpool come calling.
Maddock said: “If Liverpool go in, let’s use an example say to Lille, and go ‘we want your player’, and he’s 20 years old and he’s only played 20 games, ‘we want him’. They’ll go: ‘Hang about, this is Liverpool, you’ve seen something, he’s going to be the next Salah!’”
You can relive Liverpool’s Champions League celebrations in glorious 2D thanks to the guys at 442oons in the video below…
Maddock also stated that he’s ‘pretty sure‘ that Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar is on Liverpool’s radar – but insisted that information was by no means definite – so let’s take a look at what the Frenchman can offer the Reds that is different to their other seven midfielders.
You would assume that the midfield area would be the least of Klopp’s worries given how well stocked he is in there. Liverpool currently have Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum – where on earth would Aouar fit?
Well, the France Under-21 international can play as a defensive midfielder or a central midfielder, but his diminutive 5 ft 9 frame makes him an unorthodox figure for those roles. Tellingly, he’s also been used as a left winger, albeit incredibly briefly, throughout his short career, while James Horncastle recently spoke of his great tactical intelligence and ability to control the ball.
Fabinho, James Milner and Jordan Henderson are more physical figures who help combat the more robust challenges of the middle of the park, whilst Wijnaldum is a useful man to have in the midfield as he is such a reliable, versatile and technical figure.
Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana are all more offensive presences, although for varying reasons failed to show what they really bring to this Liverpool team last season. Keita struggled to live up to his price-tag, Lallana is no longer the crucial player he was during Klopp’s first few seasons at Anfield, and Oxlade-Chamberlain only just overcame a long-term injury at the end of the campaign.
Regardless, it does seem the 20-year-old is simply cut from a different cloth – at such a young age, he is showing ability that defies his mere two years in the Lyon first team. He amassed seven goals and 10 assists in all competitions last term, and had Pep Guardiola in adoration of him after Lyon drew 2-2 with Manchester City in the Champions League, dubbing him ‘incredible’.
And it’s that output which makes him stand out most compared to Liverpool’s other midfield options. None of them scored more than five goals or registered more than four assists in the Premier League last season and those tallies both belonged to Milner, who had the advantage of penalties and set pieces.
Aouar averaged more league key passes per match than all of them excepting Milner, with 1.2, while vastly trumping the whole set for dribbles per game and efforts at goal. Of course, we’re talking about different leagues and different systems, but it’s clear Aouar would be a far more attacking alternative to Klopp’s main midfield options from 2018/19.
Even looking at Keita, Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aouar’s 14 league goal involvements has only been bested by that trio thrice in single campaigns throughout their careers combined. For Aouar to match it at the age of 20, in just his second season as a first-team regular, is incredibly encouraging and suggests he could be a more reliable presence of output in the long-term.
It may seem a little surprising the Reds are looking at midfielders right now given how many they have, but Aouar appears to be a generational talent who would instantly bring something different to Liverpool’s engine room and offer copious potential for further growth.