Free Friday & LFC News, Media and Transfer Roundup – March 24th, 2023
Fools Doubting Klopp, Underlying Alexander-Arnold Stats & Cruyff's 1966 Ajax Masterclass
Free Friday will cover our work across The Tomkins Times’ Substack network, with it running via an opt-in or opt-out newsletter on The Main Hub (where almost all of the community commenting takes place), but covering TTT’s four sub-Substacks, or spokes.
Also make sure you check out Daniel Zambartas’ media round-up, which will be added to best of TTT from the previous week.
Best Comment of the Week
Paul on some potential transfer targets mentioned in a piece recommended by Jeff in The Athletic.
The players they focus on sound nothing like Bellingham, nor do they take into account Bellingham's potential at 19, or his physicality. Nor his leadership, as a captain of a big club at 19.
Beyond the names of Gavi and Pedri, most of the rest sound mediocre. (Again, I'm still not convinced we could get Gavi but obviously he'd be a great addition, with or without Bellingham.)
They compare Bellingham with an uncapped 5'7" 23-year-old Frenchman who presumably doesn't speak French and plays the ball very differently, and who has had no big-club or big-national team pressure. It says this player is 22 when he's 23. I have no objections to a 5'7" midfielder if he's world-class but this guy hasn't even been capped for France. Enzo Le Fée hasn't even played in European competition!
While height isn't everything, one of Bellingham's plus-points is that he's 6'1" and strong for his age. Certainly if we want to persist with Thiago and Elliott, you'd think height plays a role in recruitment this summer. Again, unless it's someone who is Gavi-good, I'd be wary of small foreign players, certainly if expected to settle quickly.
Also 23 and not 22 as stated is another smaller French league midfielder, Maxence Caqueret.
They single out Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, saying he's 23 when he's 24.
Are they even comparing team styles, and things like that? Progressive passes made vs progressive passes received depends on how much possession you have and where you get the ball.
Enzo Le Fée, the littlest French guy, has 7 career goals. In the same number of games, Bellingham has nearly 4x as many, at 24. Maxence Caqueret has 5 career goals. If we want goals from midfield, these sound like awful matches.
They compare aerial duels contested, not win %s.
On their radar, the green section is where Bellingham's numbers are almost maximum (carries and dribbles, link-up play, ball retention), yet they compare him with Maxence Caqueret, who has really low numbers in that section. Bellingham scores highly for defending intensity, Caqueret poorly. Is there any weighting for how bad the French league actually is?
Bellingham rates at 82 for xG from shot creation and elsewhere they compare him with Musah, whose score is a measly 17, and who is even worse on xG from ball progression, at 13.
I know we won't necessarily go for two identical players if one falls through as that's hard, but these players seem like really bad examples. Maybe some will make good signings in other ways, but it seems a fairly underwhelming list.
TTT Main Hub
Here’s Paul’s main piece, which was posted on The Zen Den last week but has new additional paragraphs and a whole new intro.
If there's one thing I think most Liverpool fans are missing, it's that we're now essentially back in 2017 (when fools were doubting Jürgen Klopp) or, perhaps a little more encouragingly, early 2018, when everyone was going mad about having sold Philippe Coutinho, and missing the bigger picture.
Where we're not, clearly, is in 2019, 2020 or even 2022.
The early 2018 side was heading for a Champions League final (and a further season away from becoming a machine), but had also proved wildly inconsistent, and didn’t have the injuries seen this season. I think Liverpool have a better squad than in 2018, as I will detail, and the beauty, like then, is the obviousness of the issues to fix.
It's a vital summer ahead, clearly, and while I have always had the impression that Jude Bellingham prefers Liverpool for various reasons, an auction with crazy bids could prove the stumbling block, unless Bellingham is only prepared to join Liverpool – and Dortmund have to accept the fee, which will still likely be a £120m or more. (Or Dortmund could then just threaten to keep him against his wishes, but that's rarely productive.)
But what's clear is that it's almost impossible not to significantly improve the Liverpool midfield this summer, beyond the time that it takes to bed-in new players – which is why players with existing on-field and off-field relationships would help, such as Bellingham with his best two mates from the England camp, and Ryan Gravenberch with the Reds' two existing big Dutchmen.
Those two would be absolutely ideal.
This Red Planet
To go along with the comment underneath, I expanded on some of the points in the podcast below.
One thing that seems to have been missed about Trent is that he's currently at his second highest xA rate per90 of 0.35 - the best in our team - compared to 0.40 last season (12 assists).
In 2019/20 he got 13 assists from 0.32 xA
In 2018/19 he got 12 assists from 0.26 xA
With the Reds' game state within one - so either drawing, losing or winning by a single goal - he's created nine big chances with xG values above 0.45 and his teammates have missed them. He's doing the job he's in the team to do, and being failed - clearly - by those in front of him. That is a huge factor on us failing to have more points.
His duel rate - so heading, tackling etc - is only 3% lower than his career stats - so barely noticeable.
To compound everything, he's had Thiago, Henderson, Elliott, Milner, Keita, Bajcetic, and probably most significant, an out-of-form Fabinho, offering little or no protection. And constantly rotated so no consistency.
Finally, he's had Matip, Konate, Gomez and even Nat Phillips next to him at centre-back... again, with no consistency because of injuries.
Then all and sundry question his attitude and defensive levels where there's little to show he's in poor form, it's just the external factors around him because he's doing exactly what he's always done but lazy narratives develop based on intangibles and a lack of research.
Tell you what, if all that happened to me, I'd bloody sulk. Because he seems to be performing identically but those around him are taking away the big driver of his own narrative over the past few seasons and that's assists. Which again is poor stat because he's not the one missing the chances!
Chris’ piece this week focused on learning from heavy defeats of the past.
We’ve had a few spankings over the years and come back stronger. We’ve had a few this season; at Brighton, at Wolves, at Brentford, where we lost 3-1 but they had two first-half goals ruled out.
Shankly himself wasn’t immune. In the mid-1960s the club was on a sharp rise, from Division 2 winners in 1961/2 to Division 1 winners two seasons later, FA Cup winners 1965 and champions again the season after. We got our first taste of European football and made a pretty impressive start, reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup at our first attempt in 1965 before losing controversially at Inter Milan 0-3 in the second leg after a 3-1 1st leg win at Anfield, the game in Milan overshadowed by a highly questionable refereeing performance, including allowing a goal that went straight in from an indirect free-kick.
The season after we went one stage further, reaching the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup before losing 1-2 to Borussia Dortmund at Hampden Park in Glasgow, to a freak own goal. We were learning fast. And as learning experiences go, we certainly got one in the 1966/7 season’s European Cup. On 7th December 1966, all aglow from England’s World Cup win and our own fast-burgeoning European pedigree, as well as a run of five wins in six games ahead of the game, we went to Amsterdam to take on a pretty unknown (at the time) Ajax (in fact so unknown, even the TV commentators pronounced the ‘j’ and made them sound like the well-known domestic cleaning product).
But it was us that were taken very roughly to the cleaners, by a side containing a very young Johan Cruyff. The Dutch champions tore Liverpool apart in a foggy Amsterdam, and were four up by half-time. They eventually won 5-1, with Chris Lawler scoring for us in the very last minute. Roger Hunt scored twice at Anfield but so did Cruyff, and Liverpool lost 3-7 on aggregate. This football lesson was delivered by a club that would soon go on to win the European Cup for three successive seasons.
The Transfer Hub
Finally, here’s Mizgan’s analysis of João Palhinha - a potential target for Liverpool - another midfielder and one who recently signed for Fulham who has excelled this season.
Comparison with M. Caicedo and R. Gravenberch
Let’s have a bit of fun and compare Palhinha’s league numbers of the current season with Caicedo and Ryan Gravenberch. We will take the latter’s numbers from last season at Ajax because he has not played much at Bayern Munich this time around.
Please note that Caicedo and Gravenberch are in the list of midfielders linked with a possible move to Liverpool. That is why we are doing this tri-player comparison.
I have done scouting reports of those two players in the TTT Transfer Hub. Please do check it out.
Daniel Zambartas’ LFC News, Media & Transfer Round-Up
Virgil van Dijk discusses the importance of new signings (The Athletic)
“Obviously, players are going to leave. That’s been announced so if we want to be where we have been the last five years, we need quality imports, especially with those players leaving,” Van Dijk said.
“Everyone knows that’s going to be very difficult. It is going to be very difficult to find the right players but the club has to do their job in this case.
“We still have a lot of games to play and we want to be in the Champions League. I think that will also help to attract the best players in the world. Not all the time but it will definitely help.
It’s going to be very defining and that’s something we all know,” Van Dijk added.
“It’s been a season where we can’t find the consistency that we have had for the last few years, but we need to get it back. It sounds very simple but it’s the most difficult part of football. The most difficult part of being a footballer is to stay consistent in each and every game.
“We will give it absolutely everything because I want to play in the Champions League, we all want to play in the Champions League. The fans want to play in the Champions League. We are the players on the pitch, we have to perform and we have to show it but we need also our fans. They have stuck with us in the good times and we need them probably even more in this time. We will fight.”
Martin Skrtel interview with the Athletic
“Liverpool will always be my second home. My son was born there. We have so many good memories from our time there. Liverpool will always be in our hearts.
“I’ll always be proud of what I did at Liverpool and the fact I stayed for such a long time,” Skrtel says. “I came from a small country. I was the player nobody knew when I arrived at Liverpool. Of course, I can’t say I only had good games but I always tried to do my best for the club, and for the fans.
“To win the League Cup was one of the highlights of my career. To score at Wembley that day made it extra special. The season when we nearly won the league under Brendan… it still hurts. I still sometimes think about what we could have done differently, what could we have changed to win it? But unfortunately, we can’t change it. Now it’s history.
On Liverpool’s form this season: “In football you never only get good days, you have to take the bad days too,” he says.
“When the days are bad, you have to fight with everything you have to get the good days back again. This season is not as everyone wanted it to be. But there are three big games after the international break: Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal. That’s going to be make or break in terms of qualifying for the Champions League. I still believe we can do it.
“The game against Manchester United at home was one of the best games I’ve ever seen but then it was Bournemouth and Real Madrid — not as good. If we can perform like we did against United, we can finish in the top four.
“Jurgen is definitely the right man in the right place. Nobody should be even thinking about anyone else coming to the club. He’s a top manager and the best man for the job.”
Emile Heskey interviewed about Liverpool’s current situation (90min football)
On Liverpool's season: "Injuries have been an issue, as has not replacing Sadio Mane, and you really realise that when players like that leave how much you actually needed them.
"When you get rid of players it's about bringing players in who can pick you back up but, inevitably, when you are bringing signings in you have to give them time to settle in. This league is relentless. Even Thierry Henry wasn't great when he first came [to Arsenal], Patrick Vieira wasn't great when he first came either, but they were able to become Premier League legends.”
On LFC’s midfield: "I think [Naby] Keita has not fulfilled the potential that they thought he had, so you need to go out and get someone who can fit that bill right now. It's going to be tough; they're going to have to spend a bit of money.
“Jude Bellingham definitely fits that bill. Jude would fit the bill for a lot of clubs.
"You hope that Liverpool can be the ones at the top of that list because you look at what he could achieve there. When you think of what Cristiano Ronaldo did by going to Real Madrid in his prime, and people thought 'why's he going to Real Madrid?' but he saw an opportunity to be the man to take the club back to the top - it could be the same situation for Jude [choosing Liverpool].”
On potential transfers: “You probably need three midfielders, and I'd say you still need probably two defenders as well."
Darwin Nunez withdraws from Uruguay squad
“Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez has withdrawn from the Uruguay squad due to injury.
“The 23-year-old suffered a cut ankle during Wednesday night’s Champions League defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.
“Nunez was initially called up for Uruguay’s two away friendlies against Japan and South Korea during the March international break, but the decision has been taken that he won’t be fit to represent his country and he will stay behind to undergo treatment.
“The hope is that Nunez will recover in time for Liverpool’s next game against Manchester City at the Etihad in the Premier League on April 1.”
Cody Gakpo withdraws from Netherlands squad
“The Liverpool forward had joined up with his country, though has now departed due to illness, as confirmed by the Dutch Football Association.
“Gakpo was included for his nation’s 2024 European Championship qualifiers against France and Gibraltar, but will now recover away from the squad.”
The Dutch Telegraph have reported that it is food poisoning, a virus from a chicken curry, that has made Gakpo unwell.
“The players of the Dutch national team have been complaining for a long time about the food they are served in hotel Woudschoten in Zeist. Immediately after dinner on Wednesday, a number of players got stomach problems. The next morning Botman, Gakpo, De Ligt, Veerman and Verbruggen were still throwing up so much that playing against France and Gibraltar proved impossible. They were sent home by Ronald Koeman.
“It may seem strange that five players got ill and the other internationals did not, but it is not. Not everyone ate the chicken curry. Moreover, it depends on someone's resistance how susceptible he or she is to the bacteria.”
Ben Doak lands prestigious NXGN
“Ben Doak has landed a spot in a prestigious list of top young talents across the globe. The Liverpool and Scotland Under-21 star has been named in the 50-strong NXGN Awards list [“The 50 best wonderkids in world football”] by Goal as he joins top talents from Barcelona and Real Madrid in the rankings.
“In previous years the youngsters have been placed in an order but this time around an elite group has been selected with the former Celtic talent featuring.”
Mohamed Salah shortlisted for Premier League Player of the Month
“Mohamed Salah has been nominated for March's Premier League Player of the Month award.
“The forward is included on a six-man shortlist after a month in which he recorded five goal involvements.
“Salah found the back of the net against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in a 2-0 victory, before helping to inspire a famous 7-0 home win over Manchester United with two goals and two assists.
“The Egyptian - whose strikes saw him become the Reds' all-time leading scorer in the Premier League - is up against Alexander Isak (Newcastle United), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) and Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard for the award.”
Cast a vote for Salah to win here.
“Manchester City have suffered an injury scare after Erling Haaland withdrew from the Norway squad because of a groin injury.
“The Norwegian Football Federation announced that City’s top scorer had left their training camp in Marbella and would miss the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Spain and Georgia.
“The move has been described as “precautionary”, and the injury deemed “not serious” by City sources, but the club’s medical staff are still unsure whether the 22-year-old will be available for their next match, at home to Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Saturday.
“Haaland reported for duty with the national team on Monday despite suffering the injury in City’s 6-0 win over Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-final, a game in which he scored a hat-trick, to add to his five goals in the previous match, a Champions League round-of-16, second leg demolition of RB Leipzig.
“He had a little feeling after the last match, but he thought it would go [away],” Ola Sand, the Norway team doctor, said. “Then he comes down here, and it got worse. The injury is taking a little too long for us.”
Lucas Leiva retires from football
“Former Liverpool player Lucas Leiva has announced his retirement from football, aged 36, because of a heart condition.
“The issue was detected during testing with Gremio, the Brazilian defensive midfielder's boyhood club, for whom he re-signed in the summer.
“Lucas was signed from Gremio for £5m by Liverpool in 2007 and went on to make 346 appearances in 10 seasons at Anfield.
"I can only be thankful for the career I built," Lucas said on social media.
"The day has come to say goodbye to the field. I confess that it came from greater forces."
Lucas added in a tearful news conference: "I'm ending where I'd like, not the way I'd like. I had a lot of hope that it could reverse, but it was not the case. My health comes first."
“Lucas earned a League Cup winner's medal in 2012, and his tally of 247 Premier League appearances for Liverpool is the fourth-most by a Brazilian in the competition's history.
“Lucas signed for Lazio in 2017 in a £5m deal and went on to win the Coppa Italia with the Serie A club. He also earned 24 caps for Brazil.”
Neil Atkinson’s piece on Lucas from 2017 is “One of the best things he’s ever written”
“Lucas Leiva’s Liverpool career is one which is all about scrapping for everything. It’s stunning he remains at Anfield until you remember that football clubs are populated by real people, that dressing rooms have balances and that footballers themselves have families and expectations.
“Were football simply worked out on calculators he would almost certainly be long gone. The cynical calculation for Lucas should be around where he gets his game time. For Liverpool around where his level and usefulness is versus his wage. For Lucas what does his next contract look like — could he have secured something better for the next few years. For Liverpool what does he bring?
“The man linked constantly to a move away never quite does it. He is a Liverpool lad now. He moved to Liverpool at the age of 20. He has spent most of his adult and professional life here, a third of his actual life. His children are Liverpudlian. His life revolves around this city.
“He’s a big presence for footballers from South America across the whole region and everyone who has dealings with him that I have ever spoken to only speak highly of his company and his values. He’s part of the furniture in the most mundane and simultaneously best possible way. There’s never quite enough reason to move him on, never quite enough reason for him to go. He has considerations beyond just the game. He has, frankly, a life. And he loves his adopted home.
“There is something about Liverpudlianism at its best which welcomes adopted sons with open arms and loves them, holds them close. This city is a port city, a city which defines itself against English orthodoxy, which tells itself it loves the underdog. There’s a kissing-the-camera swagger about it too; you come and make your home here, son. You know how boss we are.
“It’s easy to want the very best players to love the club you support, to call your city home. But his pride in leading Liverpool out will be as great, greater, than Luis Suarez’s. His joy in scoring that goal for Liverpool today [against Plymouth in the FA Cup] will outstrip much of Fernando Torres’s. And he’ll go to sleep tonight in his Liverpool home with a smile that would match Steven Gerrard’s, had he scored the decider in a tie like this. Maybe wider because Steven scored so many goals. This a collector’s item.”
Leeds star praises Virgil van Dijk
“Leeds United forward Wilfried Gnonto has raved about Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk labelling the Dutchman as "incredible".
He said: “Van Dijk is incredible. He’s strong, he’s fast as well, good on the ball."
Erling Haaland also said in 2022, via ESPN: "You know how tall he is, how strong he is and how fast he is, and also the timing is crazy.
"I don't think I won one duel against him because he's a physical monster."
Kenny Dalglish on Ben Doak
“The wee man has done well since going there,” Dalglish said. “He’s only 17 but he’s already been on the pitch with the first team. He’s got good vision, he can go past players and he’s not selfish. He’s always looking for teammates.
“He doesn’t need headlines right away but he’s doing well. I spoke to him for about 30 seconds one day when we were leaving the training ground.
“I just said to him, ‘do you want a lift?!’ He was good as gold. He’s settled in and he has people looking after him. It’s important he’s happy and content, as the better he’ll be on the pitch.
“He doesn’t need my help but if he does he can always give me a shout. They young lads get very well looked after at Liverpool.”
Peter Crouch responds to Didi Hamann’s claim that Klopp should leave LFC
Hamman originally said to Sky Sports Germany: “I think it would be best for both sides [Liverpool and Klopp] if they make a cut [sack Klopp!] in the summer. The team has been falling apart in the last few months. For a coach who’s been around that long, I think it’s almost impossible to pull off.”
Crouch said: “Klopp's a top manager and I think he's got as long as he wants at that club.
“Anyone who doesn't want him at the club is probably from outside the city because anyone inside the city that I speak to absolutely loves him. He's got the job for as long as he wants. if anyone can turn it around, he can.
“It's not as bad as everyone makes out. Of course, they haven't hit the standards that they have hit in previous years, but I think that's physically impossible with the same team.
“We all know it needs to refresh. There are certain players lacking some confidence. But there are big players coming back and I think finishing the top four will be the biggest achievement for them now.
“And then readdress it in the summer. I think they'll look to strengthen things. And you'd expect them to come back a lot better next year.”
Roy Hodgson accidentally sold ‘wrong player’ whilst managing Liverpool
“Just how much of an awful spell it was for the Reds was underlined back in 2019, when claims emerged that Hodgson once sold the WRONG PLAYER to former club Fulham, the side he left to manage on Merseyside.
“He returned to Craven Cottage to rubber-stamp the ill-fated move for defender Paul Konchesky, while it was agreed that young pair Lauri Dalla Vale and Alexander Kacaniklic would head in the opposite direction, accompanied by a fee of £3.5m
“Kacaniklic, though, has since revealed that Hodgson tried to put a stop to the transfer - because he was selling the wrong Alex.
"It was a bit difficult for Liverpool to replace me, but when I was in Fulham and before I signed up, I had a conversation with Roy Hodgson on the phone, where we found out that he had chosen the wrong Alex," said Kacaniklic to fotbolskananelen in a podcast.
"In his head, he thought he had sold another Alex for Konchesky. But then it was too late. It's a little fun!
"Then he just told me I was welcome back in Liverpool with open arms, but that I could do what I felt. By then I had already made my mind up and was very excited about coming to Fulham."
Andy Robertson regrets what he did to Lionel Messi in 2019
“Andy Robertson says he regrets pushing Lionel Messi in their Champions League semi-final in 2019, after the two had a heated first-half exchange.
"He was speaking Spanish and I was speaking Scottish so we both didn’t really understand each other," Robertson told the Kammy & Ben's Proper Football Podcast.
"When I look back on that incident I regret pushing his head but that summed up the attitude of the lads in the changing room. We thought nothing was going to get in our way and everyone was our enemy.
"However, if I see him again I would apologise. Out of his thousand games that was one he was quiet and maybe I had 1% to do with that. I am not going to take the credit."
Neil Atkinson on Alexander-Arnold’s struggles this season
“There's an argument that Liverpool need a way of getting Trent on the pitch for some games or keeping him on without him being at right back. It is worth remembering that in 2019 Klopp uses Gomez at the Nou Camp, for instance.
“There's also a discussion around keeping him sharp; a change can be as good as a rest. The manager has talked about that for the whole team this season, rightly or wrongly.
“For me that's having a look at him as a number 6. It is interesting how few pure 6s Liverpool are linked with. I also think Rodri has been City's most important player for two seasons minimum. I think how the two managers see that position is massively different.
“I don't think playing as an 8 would suit him because I think he needs the space to break onto the ball and he's strongest dictating from deep. I think adding the creative threat from deep and more tempo setting could be a useful weapon for Liverpool to have.
“But it is important all this isn't overblown. He's an incredible and unique footballer having a tough season in a side having a tough season. No Liverpool player has been unimpeachable this season.
“Trent Alexander Arnold will be integral when Liverpool get themselves back to 88+ pace and he will do much, if not all, of that from right back.
“Kimmich and Lahm moved position. Alves did do bits elsewhere. Sadio Mane moved elsewhere. The side that has won 4 of the last 5 Premier League titles has a number of players who showcase positional flexibility. There is no absolute right answer.
“His tackled/dribbled past percentage is better than league average for a right back.”
Liverpool “increasingly unlikely” to sign Jude Bellingham (The Athletic)
“Of the countless clubs who would love to sign the Birmingham City academy graduate, Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid appear to have emerged as the most credible destinations — although he is contracted at Dortmund until the summer of 2025 and they do not want to sanction a departure.
“As there isn’t a release clause in Bellingham’s deal, his employers have no obligation to sell, and that is among the reasons why it is anticipated it will take a very high price to alter their stance.
“That makes a deal challenging for every interested party and therefore — as things stand — it is regarded as increasingly unlikely that Liverpool will sign Bellingham in this summer’s transfer window.
“The 19-time English champions have probably been more heavily linked than anyone else and manager Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer. But the anticipated fee, the financial power of rival suitors and their reticence about entering a bidding war at the level expected has cast significant doubt on Liverpool’s chances.
“It does not mean their pursuit is off and no firm decisions have been made, although sources with knowledge of the matter think City and Real Madrid are in stronger positions at the moment.
“Considering Liverpool will finish this season empty-handed in terms of trophies (other than August’s Community Shield victory over City), sit seven points outside the Champions League spots after 26 of their 38 games, have expiring contracts and are ageing in parts of the squad, some major calls are approaching, and recruitment work is taking place on multiple fronts and with various options.
“Such factors will impact the budget and, in turn, Liverpool’s ultimate hopes of landing Bellingham.”
David Lynch writes that Liverpool are still in the race to sign Bellingham
“Liverpool remain in the hunt for Borussia Dortmund starlet Jude Bellingham’s signature, sources have told Football Insider.
“Sources close to the club have told Football Insider that Bellingham remains an active target ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s planned summer rebuild and the deal is still being worked on.
“There has long been an acceptance at Anfield that Liverpool would be unlikely to come out on top of any bidding war with Real or City for Bellingham should one ensue, yet their pursuit of the Englishman has always been predicated on convincing him that a move to Merseyside would be the best fit for his future prospects.
“That process has been under way since Bellingham was at Birmingham City’s academy, while the gaping vacancy in the Reds’ midfield and his notable closeness to Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are also thought to be selling points.”
James Pearce’s LFC “mailbag” (The Athletic)
On the Anfield Road extension and how much extra revenue it is expected to generate: “The £80million cost of the Anfield Road redevelopment is being spread out. The recently published accounts for last season showed that total investment in tangible assets for that period was £23.4m.
“I’d expect to see another sizeable chunk of the cost in the next set of accounts. Liverpool are using their existing banking facilities to pay for it.
“With 7,000 extra seats from the start of next season taking capacity to 61,000, it’s reasonable to think they will generate an extra £7m to £10m per year.”
On Matheus Nunes interest: “He is highly regarded by the club and he’s an option for this summer.”
On Ryan Gravenberch: “My information is that nothing is nailed on at this stage. Gravenberch will be one of many under consideration. Bellingham is clearly the priority.”
On relationship with Klopp since he refused to speak to him: “It is all sorted. It was actually an article published elsewhere the day before that game that had annoyed him. Around that time, he felt that certain members of his staff were being unfairly singled out for criticism and emotions were running high after a bad defeat. I saw him privately at Kirkby a few weeks ago for a chat and we shook hands. He’s answered my questions in press conferences since and everything is fine.”
On why Klopp took Nunez off against Madrid: “When Klopp did his media duties in the Bernabeu, I don’t think he was aware of Nunez’s cut ankle. Taking him off had been a tactical decision. It was only at the end of the week following talks with the Uruguay FA that it was decided Nunez wouldn’t travel to Asia to play in the two friendlies so the cut has time to heal.
“Yes, there are times when Klopp doesn’t give much away about injury details/timescales etc, but I don’t think he was holding anything back in that press conference.”
On Tyler Morton: “The feedback from Blackburn to Liverpool has been really positive. It’s been a great loan spell in terms of aiding his development. I believe the plan is for Morton to come back and start pre-season at Liverpool and then it’s down to him to prove he should be part of Klopp’s plans for 2023-24.”
On Diaz return: “The short answer is hopefully off the bench against Man City on April 1st as long as building up his fitness continues to go to plan in the next fortnight.”
The Athletic looks at LFC's potential alternatives for Jude Bellingham
"Using Smarterscout, which uses data to give players a rating from 0-99 on a variety of metrics, we can gain an understanding of Bellingham's qualities and tendencies of Bellingham's qualities and tendencies, and then match them with players who possess similar traits.”
Carry and dribble volume: 90/99
Ball retention ability: 81/99
Link up play volume: 82/99
Longer progressive passing: 25/99
Defending intensity: 68/99 (above average)
Defending impact: 56/99
Disrupting opposition moves: 75/99
xG from shot creation: 76/99
"According to Squawka, only Lionel Messi (78), Vinicius JR (77), and Alphonso Davies (64) have completed more dribbles than Bellingham (63) this season."
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Leicester City:
Carry and dribble volume: 77/99
Ball retention ability: 23/99
Longer progressive passing: 60/99
Defending intensity: 65/99
Defending impact: 53/99
Disrupting opposition moves: 18/99
xG from shot creation: 38/99
Matheus Nunes, Wolves:
Carry and dribble volume: 95/99
Ball retention ability: 46/99
Link up play volume: 66/99
Longer progressive passing: 12/99
Defending intensity: 64/99
Defending impact: 83/99
Disrupting opposition moves: 50/99
xG from shot creation: 17/99
Receptions in opposition box: 96/99, compared to Bellingham's 44/99
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