Liverpool's next midfield signing may not be a Wijnaldum replacement but we can't cheap out on a vital trait 😓
Jurgen Klopp may feel he already has the Dutchman's replacement in the squad
Liverpool continue to be strongly linked with Bundesliga sensation Florian Neuhaus, who has been tipped to replace PSG-bound Gini Wijnaldum.
The priority for the club reportedly remains in the department of contracts, with new terms lined up for key men ranging from Virgil van Dijk to Mohamed Salah.
Having said that, it seems unthinkable that Jurgen Klopp’s men will repeat a transfer mistake this summer eerily similar to our previous failure last year when we entered another season without bolstering our defensive options following Dejan Lovren’s departure.
With that in mind, assuming that the club will be inclined to adopt a more risk-averse approach to the transfer window, we talked to journalist Ronan Murphy about the Germany international and how he stacks up against his Dutch counterpart.
“Zakaria seems more like a Wijnaldum replacement, with Liverpool linked with both Gladbach midfielders,” the Bundesliga expert told EOTK Insider.
“Neuhaus is a more advanced central midfielder, who creates opportunities rather than stops them. He’s good with the ball at his feet, advancing it up the pitch to open up space and passing lanes rather than to dribble past opponents.
“He can play clever through balls and makes late runs into the area to pick up loose balls and take shots. He’d be an asset to Liverpool’s pressing style.
“The area he probably needs to work on is in the air and defensively. Despite sometimes operating in the double pivot, he often will be late tracking back as he is coming back from attacks and can be exposed by quick counters.”
Sounds a bit more forward-minded than the role Klopp had Gini playing for Liverpool.
This opens up a number of avenues of questioning: firstly, is the German planning another tactical evolution at the expense of the 30-year-old’s playing style?
Or, alternatively, does the manager feel that he already has the solution in the squad to adequately fill Wijnaldum’s boots? Perhaps the answer lies in a young midfield option in Curtis Jones? In which case, the Liverpool-linked Borussia Monchengladbach star is an intriguing new piece in our expanding puzzle.
It could merely be the case that the former Dortmund boss has identified enough in the way of similar traits in order to mould Neuhaus into the kind of midfield force he’d like him to be.
Whatever plan Klopp has in mind for a signing like the 24-year-old, we can’t afford to assume that we have more than enough in the way of extra bodies hanging in the wings to step in when necessary.
All three of our starting midfield trio were out of action for some amount of time last term; that’s not forgetting Naby Keita’s ongoing injury struggles or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s unreliability fitness-wise.
With Klopp having successfully evolved Liverpool’s threat year upon year with smart purchases and nuanced tactical tweaks, we’d support a less Wijnaldum-esque signing if it meant that we were taking a step forward in the right direction.
Whoever the recruitment team identifies as the right man to shore up our options in the middle of the park, however, there is one particular quality held by our former No.5 that we absolutely cannot afford to skimp out: durability.
At a time when two out of our three starting midfield options are 30-years-of-age - not to mention when unreliability has been a defining feature of our backup men - the best ability is availability.
Given that Florian Neuhaus hasn’t suffered from any vaguely serious injuries since the 2017/18 campaign, the German would appear, on paper, to be an ideal fit - in that particular regard, at least.
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