Last year, one reason Jurgen Klopp couldn’t take Liverpool to Europe was he didn’t have the players he wanted to work with. This summer, Liverpool spent €79.9 million on six new signings. This came at the cost of offloading several other surplus players. Anyway, here are the numbers for the new Liverpool players.
- Sadio Mané
Previous Club: Southampton
Price: €41.2 million
Liverpool spent a lot on buying Southampton’s (aka Liverpool B) star player Sadio Mané. The Senegalese winger played very well for Southampton for two seasons. His stats say the same, too.
Mané put up good numbers in every category. He’s great at dribbling, scores a decent amount of goals, produces shots and gets most of them on target. Mané did a bit of defensive work as well. Though Mané only played 76% of available minutes for Southampton last year, he didn’t miss a game due to injury and started 30 times. The signing of Mané is great, great news for Liverpool. He will put up quality performances every week for 4-5 years.
- Georginio Wijnaldum
Previous Club: Newcastle United
Position: Winger/Attacking Midfielder
Price: €27.5 million
Gini Wijnaldum was one of the only bright spots in Newcastle United’s awful season in 2015-16. Since a relegated team won’t mind selling a couple of players, Liverpool seized the opportunity and bought Wijnaldum for a fair price of €27.5 million. Was he worth it?
Wijnaldum is an efficient shooter, though he doesn’t produce too many shots. He contributes to the scoreline and dribbles well. However, he isn’t very creative. Liverpool can’t depend on him too much, but Wijnaldum can play if Coutinho, Firmino or Mané is injured. Wijnaldum played 92% of the time for Newcastle last season, untroubled by injury, and started 36 times. To sum up: he’s a good player, but not as good as his Liverpool teammates.
- Loris Karius
Previous Club: 1.FSV Mainz 05
Price: €6.2 million
Everyone knows Mignolet isn’t Liverpool quality. So Liverpool took the gamble on the young, floppy-haired Loris Karius. Karius doesn’t look like the average Premier League goalkeeper, and thus faced a lot of criticism from the media and ex-player pundits. I used Squawka’s handy comparison matrix and compared Karius to Mignolet and three other Premier League keepers.
Though Karius does better than Mignolet, he is nothing compared to the three other keepers I compared him with. The only stat he leads is average distribution length, a metric that signifies style. He’s 3rd or 4th in the other categories. Is Karius really a top-6 quality keeper?
Mignolet played 5.6 accurate long balls last year, whereas Karius played 7.6. However, Karius’s long ball completion percentage was 33.9% last season, while Mignolet completed 37.8% of his long balls. Karius played every available minute for Mainz last year. Mignolet isn’t the best keeper and Liverpool need a replacement soon, and Karius should only be used as a backup. To quote Ken Early, Karius looks like the prince at the start of a Disney film who you know will turn out to be a wrong’un.
- Ragnar Klavan
Previous Club: FC Augsburg
Price: €5 million
Liverpool’s biggest problem last year was defence. Klopp bought two new center-backs this summer. The more expensive one is Ragnar Klavan, a 31-year-old Estonian from FC Augsburg. His radar is better than I thought it would be.
Klavan is the ultimate passive defender. He doesn’t make too many tackles or interceptions, but he doesn’t lose too many duels. He keeps his discipline and makes vital clearances. He can be relied on every week, as well. Although Klavan missed three games due to injury, he played 91% of available minutes last season with Augsburg. Though playing Klavan in the starting 11 isn’t a part of Klopp’s plans, he can fill in anytime.
- Joel Matip
Previous Club: FC Schalke
Price: Free transfer
Joel Matip was the other defender Liverpool signed this summer transfer window. He’s certainly the more prominent of the two. The lanky center-back played well at Schalke for many years and has made 27 appearances for the Cameroonian national team. His radar is as impressive as his résumé.
Matip didn’t dive into too many tackles last year but never lost one. He made a lot of interceptions, blocked a lot of shots and he was very, very good in the air. The only problem is the fact that Matip was ill-disciplined. But the best thing about this signing is the price: that good a player for nothing! And Matip has no injury problems at all; he played each and every available minute for Schalke last year. This signing may just be the key to Liverpool finishing in the top four.
I think this was one of Liverpool’s best windows ever. Apart from the signing of Loris Karius and the sale of Mario Balotelli, I don’t think the Reds have put a foot wrong. Although Klavan and Matip aren’t exactly the active, dynamic center-backs Klopp needs at Anfield to initiate his Gegenpressing game, the rest more or less fit in to his tactical system.
And Mané and Matip in particular have helped Liverpool become title challengers this season. These players haven’t suffered Judging by the way things have gone so far, it will be a shame if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.