Scouting Jude Bellingham – An Ideal Number 8 for Liverpool? (Apart From the Likely Cost?)
Mizgan Masani takes a deep look at the latest English wunderkind in Germany
On TTT today, Mizgan Masani takes a deep look (for TTT subscribers) at the latest English wunderkind in Germany, with whom Liverpool have been linked.
One section in the in-depth article that caught my eye (amongst many) was this:
FBRef Percentile-based Report
The FBRef scouting report compares the player to his/her peers (players in similar positions) with regard to the numbers produced on metrics (in the last 365 days). Players taken for this calculation are from the big-five leagues in European football and European competition games are also taken into account.
There are a lot of metrics in which the percentile is over 90, namely the shots attempted, non-penalty expected goals, expected assists, dribbles completed, touches in opposition penalty area, progressive passes received and blocks made. Not too bad in the air either, which comes in handy for a midfielder.
He is pretty good at pressures. While the pressures attempted is at 22.68 per 90 with 87 percentile, the successful pressure is at 6.77 per 90 with 86 percentile. It shows that he is one of the best midfielders in pressing the opposition and forcing players to lose possession as a result of his pressure.
This particular compilation is a fair representation that Jude Bellingham is one of the best central midfielders not just in Germany but Europe.
One caveat has to be a recent description of how Jadon Sancho, with around twice the number of first team games in his career (well, he is three years younger!), found the Premier League almost distressingly fast and hectic upon his return to Manchester this year; and he also (only) left England at 17. German football is fast, but England is just far more physical and manic.
Bellingham at least has a full season in the English second tier, when aged 16-17, similar to Harvey Elliott.
Sancho’s shock shows that even English players can struggle with the pace and quality of the top flight; but of course, they can still adapt. And the second tier is a good test of intensity and durability.
See Mizgan's article on the site for a full rundown, but Bellingham seems like he should be a massive priority, especially as the best Reds' youngsters (including the elite Kaide Gordon) are mostly anything but midfielders, barring the more defensive-minded holder Tyler Morton.
Midfield may not remain a problem area for Liverpool beyond this current injury crisis, but in James Milner, Thiago and Jordan Henderson it has the squad's three oldest players, and in Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, two of its most injury-ravaged; while Harvey Elliott has to overcome a shocking career-threatening injury at just 18. Curtis Jones, to me, looks like a future winger/wide-forward, going back to his roots – albeit he’s no Sadio Mané or Mo Salah yet (neither were they at 20! – both were fairly mediocre back then).
Only Fabinho – himself already 28 – looks to have all the boxes ticked in terms of age-range, talent and fitness record.
A player like Bellingham would fit the bill, albeit a bidding war (or huge individual wage demands) will always work against Liverpool.
For more of my thoughts, see me behind the paywall on TTT, where I hang out in nothing but shiny silver hotpants. (Okay, may not be strictly true, but have just been discussing seeing Erasure live a few times in the late ‘80s…)