Is he the right man for Liverpool?

Shalke defender Kyriakos PapadopoulosKyriakos Papadopoulos has made quite a name for himself in Germany. Back in 2010 Olympiacos sold the Greek defender to Shalke for €2.5million (£2,164,000) with the centre back going onto make 57 appearances for the Royal Blues. He has also earned plenty of attention in the Greek national team especially after last year’s Euro where he was one of the side’s best players, along with Vasilis Torosidis and Fulham’s Giorgos Karagounis.

Recently though, the 21-year-old has also been garnering a lot of attention from the Premier League and more specifically – in Liverpool. This is a player that makes a very interesting case as to whether or not he is top flight material, with him making a good impression in both the Bundesliga and at international level.

The Greek centre back is recognised for his speed, strength, confidence and ability to adjust quickly – which are all very important assets for a Premier League defender. When he joined Shalke he was able to adjust quickly, which he would also be expected to do should he move to Anfield with the Premier League season starting in just 11 days.

When Olympiacos signed him in 2007 from his hometown team, Svoronos Katerinis, he made his Championship debut at the age of 15 and became the youngest footballer to ever play in the Greek Super League. He was described as a rising star by the Greek press and never failed to live up to his billing.

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He is now beloved by Shalke fans, mostly because he is a fighter that always battles to win possession of the ball and clear it from danger. He also has the second highest tackle success rate of 84.83 per cent, and has made the most interceptions (3.77) and most clearances (6.51) per game in the Bundesliga.

Centre backs are not known for their scoring abilities but Papa is no stranger to hitting the back of the net – scoring four goals in 16 games for Greece.

Liverpool have recently lost Jamie Carragher to retirement and are now carefully looking for a replacement for the Merseyside stalwart. The Anfield side recently signed Kolo Toure from Manchester City who is a very capable defender with a great history at Arsenal where he cemented his legacy as a key member of the 2004 Invincibles. Nevertheless, he is now 32-years-old and perhaps has less stamina than what Papadopoulos might have, even though he definitely has more experience.

Liverpool’s defence also consists of Daniel Agger who has made 209 appearances for the club but rumours of Barcelona circling will be worrying for Reds fans. Therefore, Liverpool couldn’t afford to lose Carragher’s replacement this summer. Martin Kelly is also a very talented defender but is mostly contending for the right back position with Glen Johnson. Martin Skrtel’s future is also in doubt with Brendan Rodgers not appearing to have much faith in the Slovakian. Sebastian Coates has also been described by many as an up and coming talent and is called ‘Luganito’ by Uruguayan fans abecause they see him as Uruguay’s next captain after West Brom’s Diego Lugano retires.

Therefore, it looks like there is room for Papadopoulos in the Anfield defence and he could also be considered as a safe bet for the centre back position with his attributes of great stamina, talent and reputation as a huge investment for the future.

Nevertheless, Papadopoulos also has his flaws. He needs to work on his passing, which is essential for an English side as most gameplans (especially Liverpool’s) are based on good circulation of the ball. He also has a fiery temper that has led him to commit 2.13 fouls per game. He gets easily frustrated as proved by a Suddeutsche Zeitung journalist, who told The Guardian that if Shalke are losing at half time the staff find it very hard to calm him down, which later affects his game and makes his defending wilder.

It hasn’t been a very good year for the Greek international as he underwent a knee operation which kept him on the sidelines for the last seven months. Nevertheless, he is expected to make a big comeback and, according to The Guardian, Brendan Rodgers sees him as a potential leader of the Liverpool back line for years to come.

Check out a video of Papa’s best performances below…

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