After spending almost £100 million to date this summer time, Liverpool are nonetheless very gentle in midfield.
A brand new No. 6 is required to return straight into the primary group, offering stability in an already overhauled division, while respecting the price range for the window and the wage construction in place.
Not solely did the Reds not plan for this, however the marketplace for No. 6 choices has not too long ago been inflated by nine-figure strikes for Enzo Fernandez, Declan Rice and (quickly) Moises Caicedo.
With such stringent standards to fulfill, listed here are a number of instructions they may go in.
The pure inheritor
There’s neat symmetry to hyperlinks with Florentino Luis.
The Portuguese will quickly be the identical age (24) as Fabinho was on his arrival, having performed in a double pivot for a title-winning aspect in Europe.
However probably the most thrilling parallels are on the sphere. Utilizing Smarterscout, we will see that Luis profiles excellently subsequent to Fabinho‘s peak season 2019/20:
Like Fabinho, Luis defends aggressively, stepping forwards to interrupt up opposition assaults.
It’s the proper fashion for a group like Liverpool that “wish to be a possession group, a high-press group, specialists [in both].”
Benfica performed an analogous fashion final yr, averaging 63 p.c possession within the league, the place Luis’ press resistance and secure passing proved helpful.
Sadly, for this reason he carries a €103 million launch clause, and Benfica are below no stress to promote.
Andre Trindade, generally known as Andre, is one other potential successor to Fabinho.
The 22-year-old can be Brazilian and in addition performs in a pair as a part of a 4-2-3-1. He even not too long ago picked up his first Brazil cap on the similar age as El Flaco.
Statistically he’s thrived at his stage, as proven on FBRef, although crucially these metrics aren’t adjusted for Premier League normal.
Andre is a high-volume passer with a powerful vary, much like Thiago, and he’s an distinctive service of the ball.
He’s extraordinarily press resistant. And his dribbling helps him with that.
He was the very best and probably the most environment friendly dribbler within the BRAZILIAN league final season, which says quite a bit about him. pic.twitter.com/zuLdAEbWhP
— Pranav (@pranav_m28) July 15, 2023
Extra importantly, he’s a proactive defender, rating extremely for tackles and interceptions.
And his combative character could be a welcome addition to the usually fragile engine room of final season, though with 22 yellow playing cards since 2021, he may rein it in a contact.
At 5’9″, Andre would require assist from defenders in contesting aerial duels. Normally Liverpool’s No. 6 is solely chargeable for successful headers of their space – pulling in assist from elsewhere creates a pure vulnerability if the duel is misplaced.
And regardless of being solely a yr youthful than Florentino Luis, he’s a rougher diamond, having by no means left Fluminense within the Brazilian Serie A.
However it’s nonetheless a threat to recruit Andre as a starter now.
The teaching undertaking
PSV’s Ibrahim Sangare operated in a double pivot final season, and below each Ruud van Nistelrooy and Peter Bosz he was tasked with supporting a excessive defensive position and excessive press together with his bodily dominance.
His defensive metrics display simply how efficient he was.
His spectacular press resistance and dribbling led us to profile him as a Wijnaldum substitute, however his excellent studying of the sport – all the time in the suitable place on the proper time to interrupt up opposition assaults – would make him extremely efficient as a No. 6 with teaching from Klopp.
Much like the Fabinho that arrived relatively than the one which emerged, Sangare may make an analogous adaptation.
Pursued by Nottingham Forest after years of hyperlinks to prime golf equipment, Liverpool may permit the continued negotiations to determine PSV’s parameters earlier than becoming a member of the race, much like how they used Tottenham‘s pursuit of Luis Diaz.
The under-appreciated asset
As not too long ago as January 2022, Denis Zakaria was probably the most coveted defensive midfielders on the earth.
After a disastrous transfer to Juventus and an underwhelming mortgage at Chelsea, he’s now been excluded from Juventus’ squad and made accessible on the market. However is he a possible discount?
The now 26-year-old was excellent within the Bundesliga, famous for his dynamism, stamina, tackling and skill to dribble previous opponents.
His Smarterscout profile from his peak season is uncommon, exhibiting a defensive midfielder whose greatest attributes are his ball carrying and shot quantity.
The attention take a look at reveals why: Zakaria is a participant who thrives in transitional video games, capable of win one-on-one duels and shortly flip defence into assault.
His lengthy limbs and glorious management in tight areas permits him to win the ball, shimmy out of stress and carry it forwards into house.
The priority is his harm document – not that he’s vulnerable to additional accidents, however that these he’s already suffered have stolen his bodily items, the lynchpin of his recreation.
As soon as valued at €45 million, Zakaria’s present scenario makes his mum or dad membership extremely motivated sellers.
He may show to be a steal at a decreased value – and Liverpool have already proven curiosity greater than as soon as previously.
The in-house resolution
Curtis Jones has already impressed in a sophisticated function for Liverpool, together with his passing, scoring and tackling numbers all excellent in the course of the run-in.
However he performed as a double six for England in successful the U21 Euros, the place his skill to maneuver the ball – allied together with his shut management and intelligence – made him extremely efficient.
94% – Curtis Jones accomplished 94% of his passes on the #U21EURO Championship, the very best proportion of any midfielder within the match (min. 300 minutes performed). Metronome. pic.twitter.com/YJb7ptUqQZ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 9, 2023
Jones additionally displayed a wonderful sense of timing to make interceptions and launch assaults. Right here, towards Israel, he anticipated the free clearance…
…seizing on it earlier than instantly taking part in a beautiful no-look via ball.
We’ve additionally seen his creativity from deep within the 5-1 win at Porto in 2021, significantly his help for Roberto Firmino – considered one of 4 he facilitated on the night time.
Jones is a poor match for the function in a 4-3-3, given his lack of expertise and unremarkable defensive metrics (although these are partly a symptom of him taking part in a unique place).
However we’ve seen in pre-season that the inverted full-back system will persist. He’d have a accomplice, much like the England setup, so he could possibly be equally efficient.
Utilizing Jones helps Liverpool with their homegrown quota, too.
Deploying him deeper this season may save on a non-homegrown recruit, and later permit Fabio Carvalho to inherit the extra superior 8/10 function if he returns from mortgage at Leipzig.
Sensible, long-term squad administration on this chaotic window could be a traditional Liverpool transfer.
Whoever inherits the place, finishing the overhaul of midfield ought to put the Reds on observe for an thrilling resurgence within the coming season.