Category Archives: Scouting report

Scouting Reported Liverpool Transfer Target Alexandre Lacazette

Having secured Champions League football next season, Liverpool are now aiming to finish the Premier League season as champions. But this hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from going into overdrive, and the latest player linked with a move to Anfield is Olympique Lyonnais striker Alexandre Lacazette, per the Daily Mail.

Despite boasting the Premier League’s most lethal strike duo in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have found their bench relatively thin this season, and 17-goal scorer Lacazette has apparently caught the attention of their scouts, as well as those of Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle United and Juventus.

With two high-profile moves for attacking midfielders Mohamed Salah and Yevhen Konoplyanka falling through in the January transfer window, manager Brendan Rodgers is reportedly still on the lookout for a quality forward.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Lacazette’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Liverpool.

 

Pros

With his exciting dribbling and goal-scoring ability, it’s no surprise Lacazette, after a couple of strong seasons in the Lyon youth team, was promoted to their first-team squad at the age of 19, making his professional debut against Auxerre in May 2010.

Prior to his first-team exploits, however, Lacazette scored the winner for France in a 2-1 comeback win over Spain in the UEFA Under-19 championships, which then saw the young striker become a star for his country’s Under-20 and Under-21 national teams.

After making his breakthrough with the Lyon first team in the 2011-12 Ligue 1 season, scoring six goals in all competitions, he has now matured into an all-rounded striker spearheading the Lyon attack. Fifteen league goals and three assists in 31 starts this season shows his development over just a few short years.

Blessed with searing pace, impressive technique, a blistering long shot and a composed finish, Lacazette excels in one-on-one situations and regularly beats his man with a silky first touch and scintillating turn with shades of a certain No. 7 at Anfield.

His array of skills renders him a formidable option on the counterattack, while his pressing on opposition defenders also make him a nuisance to defend against and a valuable asset for any team set up to take the front foot in a match.

 

Cons

Liverpool’s potentially damaging 0-2 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield last Sunday renewed calls for a bigger presence in the penalty box, and at 5’9”, Lacazette doesn’t exactly provide the most dominant physical frame they might need.

His lack of experience at the highest level—he has only ever made two appearances for the France senior team—and with Lyon not the European force it was a few years back, he doesn’t represent the most experienced option in terms of the Champions League.

Finally, according to the Mirror, Lyon are reportedly in contract renewal talks with Lacazette. Given that his current deal runs out in 2016 and Lyon’s seeming reluctance to let go of their prized asset, Lacazette might not come cheap, which would be far from ideal for interested clubs.

 

 

EuroFootball/Getty ImagesPotential Role at Liverpool

With his pace, all-round ability and off-the-ball work rate, Lacazette seems to have all the tools required to succeed in Rodgers’ young and dynamic Liverpool team.

Having exhibited his potential on the Ligue 1 stage, he could be ready for a move toward a Liverpool side looking to challenge on all four fronts next season, after a campaign that has surprised many onlookers with their enterprising brand of attacking football.

Lacazette’s array of skills means he would be a perfect fit in Liverpool’s dominant style of play, while he would also flourish in their devastating counterattacks. His pressing from the front will likely impress Rodgers in his bid for a regular first-team place.

That he will be working with three quality forwards in Suarez,Sturridge and Raheem Sterling every week suggests his development curve will only continue going upward, and under Rodgers’ famed man-management skills, Lacazette may well find himself flourishing at Anfield.

With the Reds competing in four competitions next season, they need depth in reserve and rotation, and Lacazette would provide an impact from the bench and also do a more than effective job as a first-team starter.

 

Conclusion

It comes as no surprise a number of clubs around Europe are reportedly interested in Lacazette: His strengths are there for all to see, and he has the potential to become one of the continent’s leading forwards.

That he would add to almost any Premier League team is also a given considering his skill set and capabilities on the ball. His playing style would see him slot seamlessly into Rodgers’ Liverpool team.

So on paper, he would be an excellent choice for the Reds in the quest for an alternative forward option this summer.

Our main concern would thus be price—if Lyon refuse to do business for a reasonable price, Liverpool should look in the market for other viable squad options in their bid to build a rotatable forward line.

If Lacazette is available for a decent fee, however, Liverpool should strongly consider bringing him to Anfield. He might just surprise a few people.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report.

Advertisements

Scouting Reported Liverpool Transfer Target Lazar Markovic

With Champions League football almost secured for next season, Liverpool have set their sights on an outright title challenge. With this newfound status among the upper echelons of the Premier League, the Reds have found themselves linked with a host of transfer targets this summer.

Among the latest names in the rumor mill is Benfica’s Lazar Markovic, who is reportedly the subject of a £20 million bidding war between Liverpool and Chelsea, according to Alan Nixon of the Mirror.

Having seen two high-profile moves for attacking midfielders Mohamed Salah and Yevhen Konoplyanka fall through in January, Brendan Rodgers is still rumored to be in the market for reinforcements up front, and Markovic certainly falls into that category.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Markovic’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Liverpool.

 

Armando Franca

 

Pros

With his exciting dribbling and goal-scoring ability from midfield, it’s no surprise that Markovic made his senior debut for Partizan at the tender age of 17.

In fact, so impressive was his first season in Partizan’s colors that he was voted their Player of the Year on the club’s website back in 2011.

An encouraging performance in the Europa League against Internazionale in 2012 prompted then-Nerazzurri boss Andrea Stramaccioni to publicly praise the Serbian, according to Goal.com, saying, “He is a player with exceptional qualities. He possesses a very impressive acceleration and has a bright future ahead of him.”

Besides a quick turn of pace and a bag of tricks in his locker, Markovic is also composed in the finish and has a penchant for the unpredictable, much like a certain Luis Suarez at Anfield.

Having started his career as more of a conventional attacking midfielder, he has often been played in a striking or wing role since moving to Benfica, making use of his speed and dribbling to bamboozle opposition defences.

In that respect, he seems to combine the lightness of feet and quick-thinking creativity of Philippe Coutinho with the confidence and unpredictability of Suarez and would be comfortable playing across the front three.

 

Cons

Despite having a set of skills that make him a formidable opponent on paper, Markovic has yet to cement a place in Jorge Jesus’ starting XI, suggesting that he hasn’t found the consistency and maturity required to start week in, week out in a top-tier European league.

Standing at 5’9”, Markovic is relatively slight in frame and would only add to a Liverpool team that is not generally known for its physical and aerial dominance—though a low center of gravity compensates for that immeasurably.

A key point to note is the rumor of a release clause put in place by Benfica and Chelsea that suggests that the Stamford Bridge club would be able to sign him for a cheaper £12.5 million fee, according to Jonny Singer of the Daily Mail.

 

EuroFootball/Getty Images

 

Potential Role at Liverpool

With his pace, trickery, first touch and finishing, Lazar Markovic seems to have all the tools required to succeed in Brendan Rodgers’ young and dynamic Liverpool team.

Rodgers’ man management skills have been publicly lauded by many of his players this season, and Markovic will only need to look at the impressive development of the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson to know that if he does end up at Anfield, his future will be in good hands.

However, he is still a relative novice on the international stage and is very much a raw gem rather than the finished product, which does not necessarily represent the best option for Liverpool at the moment, especially if they head into next season having secured a top-three place and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage.

And if the rumors of a potential release clause for Chelsea are true—or a first option, as reported by Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail—the Reds might end up having to pay a fee much larger than £12.5 million, which wouldn’t be ideal for the Anfield club.

Given Markovic’s similarity to Coutinho and Suarez, shelling out for him would have to be a careful consideration—or a huge endorsement of his raw potential.

 

Conclusion

That Markovic is one of Europe’s hottest attacking talents should be established. His frequent links with both Chelsea and Liverpool are well-deserved given his scintillating displays over the past few years with both Partizan and Benfica.

That he would add to almost any Premier League team is also a given considering his skill set and capabilities on the ball. His playing style would see him slot seamlessly into Liverpool’s enterprising and relentlessly attacking brand of football.

But given what Liverpool need this summer, the amount of money it would cost them to bring him to Anfield and the presence of Coutinho, Suarez and a few other exciting young attacking talents, the transfer funds that would be put to Markovic’s transfer would be better used to address other deficiencies in the Liverpool squad—or toward a signing that would instantly upgrade their first team.

Markovic, for now, should be a luxury option to be targeted only if the rest of the squad has been upgraded.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report.

Liverpool Transfers: Scouting Report on Reported Reds Target Juan Manuel Iturbe

Liverpool’s high-flying and top-scoring attack this season hasn’t stopped the rumours from flying in. The latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield this summer is Hellas Verona winger Juan Manuel Iturbe.

Jamie Sanderson of the Metro has credited Liverpool with an interest in the Argentine winger, who is currently enjoying an impressive campaign in Serie A on loan from FC Porto.

With five goals and two assists in 20 starts, Iturbe has attracted the attentions of many clubs around Europe—including Hellas, who are keen to make the loan switch permanent this summer.

Starting his career at Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno, he moved to the Portuguese giants in 2010, aged just 17. Prior to his season-long loan at Hellas, he spent six months on loan at Argentine club River Plate.

Just as we’ve done with Micah Richards and Isco earlier, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Juan Manuel Iturbe’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Brendan Rodgers.

 

Pros

Juan Manuel Iturbe has long been highly rated in South America. In fact, he earned his first senior cap for Paraguay as early as 2009, when he was just 16 years of age—but he has since declared his national allegiance to Argentina, given that his international debut didn’t count as a competitive match.

With a low centre of gravity, dangerous acceleration, skilful close control, deadly free-kick accuracy and a cool finish, Iturbe has been dubbed the “new Lionel Messi” for obvious reasons.

His pace and strength on the ball are excellent complements to his superb left foot, which has seen him fire in long-range rockets and spectacular finishes for Hellas this term. Another Messi-like trait is his tendency to pick up the ball from deep and run at opposition defences.

Still aged just 20, Iturbe has his best years ahead of him and would be an exciting addition to any squad looking for an explosive winger capable of conjuring moments of match-winning magic.

And if the Metro are to be believed and Iturbe is indeed valued at £15 million, he would most definitely be considered a good deal.

 

Cons

One of the most damning—and condescending—questions leveled Messi’s way is “can he do it on a cold, wet Tuesday night at Stoke?”

Iturbe, who has yet to establish himself at the top level in Europe and is only spending his first full campaign on European soil, will certainly need time to adapt to English football.

His diminutive stature—he’s just 5’6.5″—means that he will be at an instant physical disadvantage in the Premier League, though his stocky frame will go some way in making up for it.

His one-footedness also limits his attacking play to go via his left side, which makes his tendencies to cut in from the right wing slightly predictable. His preference for the spectacular means that he can be selfish on the ball and in the dribble, which makes him a frustrating individualist rather than a total team player.

 

Gabriele Maltinti/Getty ImagesPotential Role at Liverpool

With their high-profile (and ultimately unfruitful) pursuits of Mohamed Salah and Yevhen Konoplyanka in the January transfer window, it’s clear that Liverpool are still on the lookout for a goal-scoring winger.

Juan Manuel Iturbe will certainly provide pace, attacking thrust and goals from the wing, and he would slot into a young and exciting Liverpool attack that has already been firing on all cylinders this season.

Brendan Rodgers would still need to instill in Iturbe a work ethic that has been evident in the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling this season. Besides making his eye-catching contributions in attack, he would need to put his physicality to use as a first line of defence, harrying his opponents from the front.

In addition, in a team where collective play and responsibility reign king, Iturbe would need to shelve his selfish tendencies and improve his decision-making in the final third.

With Coutinho and Sterling forming a scintillating line behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, however, Rodgers would need to evaluate how he should best blood Iturbe in and not hamper the former duo’s impressive development at the same time.

 

Conclusion

On the face of it, Juan Manuel Iturbe would be a brilliant signing for Liverpool: If Rodgers can unlock his full potential, he would be an excellent addition to a side ready to challenge for Premier League honours and looking to make a splash in Europe again.

Anfield would also be the perfect platform for Iturbe to launch himself into the European spotlight and working with Brendan Rodgers, who is now widely renowned for his man management, will only improve his game.

But from Liverpool’s perspective, with a cohesive attacking unit in such fearsome form this season, Iturbe’s “rough diamond” status would add more inexperience to a forward line already young at its core, and his style of play may need extensive coaching to adapt to a team-first, pass-and-move approach.

As such, Liverpool should only consider Iturbe if Porto are indeed ready to let him go at a reasonable price—and they’re not known for selling their best prospects on the cheap.

Perhaps the money that they’d splash on Iturbe would be better served strengthening other areas of the squad for now—unless Rodgers can find a way to fit him into an already stacked Liverpool attack.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

Liverpool Transfers: Should Reds Go for Manchester City Defender Micah Richards?

Liverpool Transfers: Should Reds Go for Manchester City Defender Micah Richards?
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Liverpool might be flying high in their quest to secure Champions League football this season, but that hasn’t stopped the rumours from flying in. The latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield is Manchester City defender Micah Richards, according to Jamie Sanderson of the Metro.

While the Reds have been a free-scoring success up front and are now the Premier League’s top scorers, they are placed a disappointing 10th in the goals conceded column, exemplified by an inconsistent central defensive selection and some eye-catching mistakes.

Richards, a graduate from City’s youth academy, has long been linked with a move to Anfield but as he finds himself firmly down the pecking order both at right-back (to Pablo Zabaleta) and centre-back (to captain Vincent Kompany), this rumour has been revived again with the summer transfer window opening in a few months.

But would he be a good signing for Liverpool?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Micah Richards’ potential signing, assess his proposed role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Brendan Rodgers.

 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Pros

It seems as if Richards has been around forever, yet the Manchester City man is only still 25 years of age.

Blessed with searing pace, a physical frame and dominant ability in the air, Richards burst onto the scene in 2005 as a 17-year-old and quickly gained national prominence as England’s most promising young defender.

Such was the impression he made that he was called up to the national team by Steve McClaren after just 28 professional club matches with City. When he made his first start in light of Gary Neville’s injury at right-back, he broke Rio Ferdinand’s record and became England’s youngest ever defender.

But it’s not just his defensive strength that has won him plenty of plaudits. His marauding runs down the right flank have been a prominent attacking outlet for City over the years, and his physicality means that he is a difficult opponent to come up against. His record of five assists in City’s title-winning season in 2011/12 was the joint most of any defender in the Premier League.

Capable of playing both as a central defender and on the right, Richards also brings leadership to the back four: When he captained City in 2007, he was only 19—their youngest ever captain—and he deputized for Kompany during the Belgian’s absence, again during the 2011/12 season.

 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Cons

A picture of physicality, strength and fitness in his early years at City, Richards has not had the best of luck with injuries recently, with a hamstring problem his latest affliction.

Despite being an important part of their title-winning 2011/12 season, he made just seven Premier League appearances last term, and he has only played in two league games in the current campaign.

In his absence, Pablo Zabaleta, signed during the Mark Hughes era, has become a mainstay in the City first team and established himself as one of the best right-backs in England, making it ever harder for Richards to force his way back into the team.

As such, it’s been a while since Richards has enjoyed an extended run-out in City colours—but when he’s had a first-team opportunity, he has yet to show that he can recapture his pre-injury form.

In Martin Kelly, Liverpool already have a strikingly similar case: Both Kelly and Richards burst onto the scene as talented and complete young defenders, capable of playing both in the centre and on the right but injuries have stalled their striking potential and derailed their careers.

Would Brendan Rodgers, having seen first-hand Kelly’s troubles in making a successful comeback from injury, want a repeat?

 

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Potential Role at Liverpool

When it comes to ability, there’s no doubt that Richards has the talent to succeed at the highest level.

At just 25 years of age, he still has his best years as a defender ahead of him and at Liverpool there is just the right position for him to reestablish himself in the Premier League.

Martin Skrtel has reclaimed his position in the right side of Liverpool’s central defence, but he remains an inconsistent defensive option. Despite having improved his goals return this season, he has also made some alarming mistakes and shown weaknesses in his positioning and tackling.

With Mamadou Sakho seemingly Brendan Rodgers’ first-choice left-sided centre-back option, ahead of vice-captain Daniel Agger, there is a place for a young but established defender on his right.

Both Richards and Sakho’s versatility mean that they can fill in on the flanks in case of injury to their team-mates during a match and also crucially that Rodgers can change his formation to a 3-5-2 with ease and confidence.

 

Conclusion

Brendan Rodgers has carved a strong reputation as an excellent nurturer of talent, with the likes of DanielSturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling benefiting greatly from his man management.

A young English talent needing a platform to prove himself at the highest level, at a club where domestic talent and an exciting attacking ethos are prevalent? There could be no better club than Liverpool for Micah Richards at this stage of his career.

And given that his current contract runs out in the summer of 2015—and that, according to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, City may look to move him on given his unwillingness to sign a new deal—Richards could also be available for a lower fee.

The risk that Richards could yet go down Martin Kelly’s path means that any potential signing would be a gamble, but the chance to pick up one of England’s erstwhile hottest defensive talents on a bargain deal is surely too good to turn down.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

Scouting Report on Reported Liverpool Target Yann M’Vila

Hi-res-146398231-yann-mvila-of-france-acknowledges-the-fans-after-the_crop_north
Ian Walton/Getty ImagesA week and a half into the January transfer window, Liverpool are still on the lookout for a potential new signing. The latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield is Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, according to the Liverpool Echo.

This news comes on the back of M’Vila’s agent announcing, via the Metro, that the French midfielder “dreams” of playing in the Premier League.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise either, given that he showed up at the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in November to support his friend, Reds defender Mamadou Sakho, as reported by the Daily Mail.

A precocious midfield talent during his days at Rennes, M’Vila was embroiled in a series of controversial antics off the pitch, and in the beginning of 2013, he moved to Russia to continue his career.

Just as we’ve done with Konstantinos Mitroglou and Martin Montoya earlier, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Yann M’Vila’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Brendan Rodgers.

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesPros

Those familiar with Ligue 1 a few seasons back will know of Yann M’Vila as one of the most highly rated midfield talents in French football in his generation during his three-and-a-half seasons at Rennes.

As this Squawka report suggests, M’Vila might not have lost much of his ability despite a fall in reputation with his move to Russia: His passing statistics as of November 2013 were stellar (88 percent accuracy and a total of 770 passes in 14 league games), and his comfort playing in a passing-dominant midfield would suit Liverpool to the ground.

Curiously, given his ball-playing technique and composure, M’Vila is most known as a strong defensive anchorman thanks to his physical strength, athleticism and incredible stamina. His distribution and positioning also makes him a perfect shield in front of the back four.

With his talent, it’s no surprise that former French international Marcel Desailly claimed that he had the potential to become better than Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, according to the Daily Mail. His coach at Rennes, Frederic Antonetti, has afforded him further praise: “He reads the game like Claude Makelele, has the presence of Patrick Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure.” (c/o FIFA.com)

 

Cons

Given his abilities and reputation as a hot midfield prospect for France—he made 22 appearances for the national team, scoring one goal, in the space of just two years—it seems strange to see Yann M’Vila plying his trade in the Russian Premier League with Rubin Kazan.

But his career has been derailed by the aforementioned off-field troubles, the most noteworthy of which was an unauthorized night out while on international duty with the French under-21 team, as reported by BBC Sport, which saw him banned from the France national team in November 2012.

He had previously been given a warning following his snub of then-national team coach Laurent Blanc after his substitution in the quarterfinal against Spain in June 2012, according to BBC Sport.

And before his incidents with the French national setup, he also landed himself in hot water with the authorities in May 2012 after an altercation with a 17-year-old boy near his home, as reported by the Metro.

On the field, M’Vila isn’t the most prolific midfielder either: He has only scored two career league goals, both when he plied his trade for Rennes, for whom he played 126 times in Ligue 1.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesPotential Role at Liverpool

Judging from his playing attributes, Yann M’Vila would bring a complete midfield package to Anfield and should walk straight into Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI.

Comfortable both in central midfield and in a deeper defensive midfield role, M’Vila would be an instant upgrade over the likes of Lucas Leiva at Anfield, and he would form a complete midfield triumvirate with the equally energetic Jordan Henderson and one of Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard.

M’Vila’s pace, strength and positional awareness would help the Reds greatly, given that their midfield has been exposed by dynamic and explosive oppositions, such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton.

Rodgers’ ideal midfield system for Liverpool has all three midfielders relentlessly moving and applying pressure to their opponents, moving the ball at pace and comfortably with short passing to open up the opposition. M’Vila would slot in seamlessly to this blueprint.

At just 23 years of age, M’Vila has his best years ahead of him. If Rodgers’ track record with Daniel Sturridge and fellow January signing Philippe Coutinho reflects anything, it’s that the current Reds boss has the ability to motivate players whose careers have perhaps stagnated and unlock their full potential.

As such, not only would M’Vila be a quality signing for Liverpool, but they’d also represent the ideal destination for him to resurrect his career and establish himself as one of the best midfielders in his generation.

 

Conclusion

From our analysis of his strengths and potential role at Liverpool, it’s clear to see that we strongly recommend Yann M’Vila as a Liverpool signing.

In fact, given his attributes and potential ability, as well as what the Reds midfield currently lacks, we’d even go as far as to say that M’Vila should be a priority in the eyes of the Liverpool management.

That his development has been curtailed due to a series of off-field troubles is well-known, but that Rodgers has the man management techniques to bring the best out of a troubled young player is also highly regarded at Anfield. We only have to see Raheem Sterling’s recent improvement after almost a year of off-field distractions to recognize the work Rodgers is doing behind the scenes.

As such, we have every reason to believe that he would be able to do the same with M’Vila, who may well go on to realize his immense potential.

It’s a tantalizing possibility and a mouthwatering prospect: Liverpool should go all-out for Yann M’Vila, who might still have the world at his feet.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.