According to widespread reports, Liverpool are keeping a close eye on FC Rostov’s attacking star Sardar Azmoun, who has been dubbed ‘the Iranian Lionel Messi’.
Liverpool are tracking FC Rostov forward Sardar Azmoun. At this stage he’s being watched as they consider their options ahead of January.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) November 8, 2016
Well, according to the Guardian and respected Joe reporter Tony Barrett (above) Liverpool are keen on Azmoun as they plot to bolster their attacking options mid-season.
The Reds are set to lose Sadio Mane from early January until potentially early February with the pacey ex-Southampton man due to represent Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Danny Ings has recently been ruled out for the entire season with a nasty knee injury.
As a result, Jurgen Klopp will see his red-hot strike force plummet in terms of numbers in the New Year, although he does have Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi chomping at the bit to break into his XI.
It’s claimed that Azmoun is being looked at with a view to solving this issue, although at this stage it remains unclear as to how many targets are being eyed up, with it unlikely that all of the club’s eggs are in one basket.
As his ‘Messi’ moniker suggests, Azmoun is a technically adept final third player. Not an all-out forward, the 21-year-old tends to operate in a withdrawn role behind a main striker and has been known to work from wide positions too.
In terms of his goalscoring ability, Azmoun has netted 16 times in just 22 appearances for Iran at senior international level, while last season he notched nine goals in the Russian Premier League in just 1,130 minutes – the least game time of any of the division’s top ten scorers.
He’s dragged that form into the current campaign, too, finding the net twice in Champions League qualification while scoring against Atletico Madrid in the tournament proper.
With Klopp’s team all about high-tempo, fluid attacking, the German will feel a drop in numbers in the New Year. While Origi offers him a physical presence and Sturridge supreme finishing ability, neither are truly suited to slotting into Mane’s wider role, so Azmoun, who can drift across a frontline, may be more useful.
In terms of age, Azmoun, who will turn 22 in January, fits the profile Liverpool are likely to pursue, with a younger player likely to be more content with a bench role when everyone is available.