Liverpool are reportedly in the market for a new centre-back to replace Dejan Lovren. The Croatia international is entering the final year of his contract and will discuss his future with Jurgen Klopp this summer, report Football Insider, leading to links with Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez, Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, from AS via The Daily Mail.
Gimenez has enjoyed an impressive rise in Madrid, but his injury problems may well rule him out of contention. Valued at £63m by Transfermarkt, that is simply an obscene amount of money to spend one someone who has suffered 15 different injuries in his short career so far, missing 18 matches this season alone. Bastoni meanwhile is still massively inexperienced and it has often been documented in the past how poorly Italian footballers fare in the Premier League, so we have narrowed our choice down to Leipzig star Upamecano.
Defensive beast…The first statistic that jumps off the page about Upamecano is his tackling, always on the front foot with a whopping 2.1 tackles per game in the Bundesliga, a number that rises to 3.2 in the Champions League, via Whoscored. He also reads the game well, making 1.7 interceptions per top-flight match and just 0.8 fouls, incredibly similar numbers to Joe Gomez’s 1.3 interceptions and 0.7 fouls.
Deep block destroyer… Another trait Upamecano boasts that could be a huge addition to Klopp’s side is his dribbling out of defence. At 6 foot 1, with massive strong strides and impressive close control, he completes an average of 1.1 dribbles per match in the Bundesliga, even reminding one fan of Yaya Toure’s surges up the pitch.
Upamecano all day long, he’s like Yaya but in Defence, fantastic prospect
— Deda (@MrDeedigan) March 22, 2020
To put these numbers into perspective, Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip combine for just 0.7. The Frenchman’s runs could help commit players out of position when facing a deep block, something that has occasionally been an issue for Klopp.
Are you van Dijk in disguise… Finally, Upamecano’s passing range makes him a perfect fit for Liverpool’s system, where the constant switching of play relies on the passing range of van Dijk, who boasts an average of 85 passes per match at an 89% success rate with 5.3 long balls per game. Leipzig’s rising star makes 73 passes per match, also completing 89% of them and a slightly superior 6.2 long balls, which is more than Gomez in every category. Pairing the 21 year-old with van Dijk would have opposing defenders’ heads spinning as they chased the bombardment of long balls and switches to players like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Reds fans, we think Upamecano’s excellent ability on the ball would make Klopp’s side even more dangerous in attack, but who do you want to replace Lovren? Join the discussion in the comments below!
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