Liverpool’s recruitment department has built itself a deserved reputation for being forward-thinking when it comes to the use of data in guiding the club’s business in the market.
One name that is considered likely to crop up on the Reds’ shortlist next year, if they are keen on nailing down an ideal Mo Salah replacement, could be that of Real Sociedad wide man Takefusa Kubo, according to Andy Jones and Mark Carey.
“If Liverpool’s recruitment staff are sifting through the profile of a Salah replacement, then the following traits must be crucial — a young, left-footed, versatile forward with European experience, who can burst forward at pace and has end product,” the Athletic journalists wrote for the publication.
“Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo simply has to be on that shortlist.
“The 22-year-old already has plenty of experience under his belt, with loan moves to Mallorca (twice), Getafe and Villarreal, before being sold to Real Sociedad from Real Madrid last summer — having been schooled in Barcelona’s La Masia as a teenager.
“Stylistically, the Japanese forward likes to run at his man — a lot. Per FBref, Kubo’s 4.3 attempted take-ons per 90 last season was in the top six per cent of all forwards in La Liga last season.
“Based on the aforementioned attacking carries, only Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr (80), Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco (56), and Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams (50) logged more attacking carries than Kubo’s 47 in La Liga last season.
“Most notably, these carries are heavily geared towards shot-ending carries, with 68 per cent of his total attacking carries ending with a strike on goal.
“But he is no one-dimensional speed demon; Kubo has versatility, too — he is able to operate on either flank and also forged a strong relationship with Norway’s Alexander Sorloth in Imanol Alguacil’s 4-1-3-2 last season.”
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows on our end, however, given that Real Madrid could quickly swoop in and take advantage of their buy-back clause if they also see great potential in their former man.
“The forward is starting to add goals and assists to his game — nine and seven respectively last season. He has already bagged three goals and one assist this term,” Jones and Carey added. “Having been sold to Sociedad last summer, Real Madrid inserted a buy-back clause so it would be a delicate situation but he is surely one to monitor.”
We would hope that Liverpool would show some haste in this regard if it becomes clear that Salah’s future does lie away from Anfield next summer amid ongoing interest from Saudi Arabia.
A player that is on the pathway to becoming a global superstar but hasn’t quite hit the ‘Galactico’ status? Sounds right up our street doesn’t it?
We should state for the record that we’re in absolutely no rush to see our Egyptian King out of the door, though we do appreciate the concerns the club is likely to have over a 32-year-old with one year remaining on his contract.
Should a bid of over £100m – perhaps even beyond the £150m mark – come in next summer, it’ll be difficult to say no, especially when considering the level of investment that will be required to restore the backline.