Why £25 million defender and £27 million midfielder will not be heading to Anfield anytime soon

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Diego Costa of Chelsea is fouled by Michael Keane of Burnley during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 27, 2016 in London, England.
All rights reserved by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

Joseph Kavaloski explains why Michael Keane and Geoffrey Kondogbia are unlikely to move to Liverpool anytime soon. 

Over the past couple weeks, rumours have emerged from various sources that the Reds are interested in bringing Michael Keane and Geoffrey Kondogbia to Anfield. Both players are still young at 23 years of age, but neither qualify as a logical fit under Jurgen Klopp.

Keane is a talented young defender who has excelled in his time at Burnley. Having joined the Clarets from Manchester United two years back, Keane has established himself as one of the top young defenders in England.

The Burnley centre-back has the talent to live up to his supposed £25 million price tag, but his fit under Klopp is dubious. Keane is the classic no-nonsense, old-school centre-back.  While this is a positive for many clubs, Klopp has a unique definition of what he wants in his defenders that Keane does not embody.

This year at Burnley, Keane has completed only 81.2% of the 31.1 passes he averages per match. Being the typical relegation battling team, the Clarets often do not play a possession-style which limits Keane’s passing statistics.

However, the average distance from Keane’s passes, 22 meters, is only one meter further than that of Joel Matip. Plus, Matip also averages almost one full long ball more per match. Despite the impact of Burnley’s tactics, it is obvious that Keane’s ball playing ability is not close to that of Joel Matip or even Dejan Lovren.

With a fee upwards of £30 million, the Reds would only buy Keane if he was expected to be a starter. Unfortunately, his skill set does not appear to fit well with what Klopp desires in his centre- backs. In addition, Joe Gomez has just returned from injury and his tremendous potential and ability on the ball may soon make for an intriguing battle for places in the Reds’ back line.

With regards to Kondogbia, the truth to the various rumours are just as doubtful. The young midfielder is an interesting young talent who only arrived at Inter Milan in the summer of 2015 after earning a €25 million move from AC Monaco.

Kondogbia had a successful first season in Milan with 29 appearances. Then, Frank De Boer arrived from Ajax and the Frenchman has now fallen down the pecking order. As a result, it appears as though Kondogbia may be looking to move elsewhere for consistent first team football.

Whether or not he can earn what he is looking for at Anfield is questionable. Kondogbia is a talented young player that many Liverpool fans wanted in a red shirt last summer, however, the questioning of his receptiveness to coaching is a major red flag for any player interested in working under Klopp.

After Inter’s match against Bologna in late September where Kondogbia was at fault for conceding a goal, De Boer ripped Kondogbia saying, “he [Kondogbia] makes the same mistakes often…we told him many times, he doesn’t want to listen.”

Kondogbia may be a talented player full of potential, but adhering to tactics is imperative for Klopp’s team. This is a huge reason why he may not be the right fit to play in a Liverpool shirt.

In terms of his play on the field, Kondogbia is a good player, but he would certainly not be first-choice at Anfield. Jordan Henderson has been excellent in the holding midfield role in 2016 and now that Emre Can has put his fitness problems behind him, the competition for that spot in the starting eleven will be fierce.

Kondogbia would likely be third-choice behind Henderson and Can due to his inability to create chances from his deep-lying position. His passing accuracy in 2015/16 was a stellar 87%, but he only created 16 chances in 26 appearances. In comparison, Can had a lower accuracy of 81%, but he created almost double the scoring opportunities in only four more league appearances.

One major criticism of Henderson in the early parts of this season was his conservative passing. Keeping possession is important, but incisive passes forward rather than simple passes sideways can be vital in driving a team forward.

Unfortunately, Kondogbia often makes the latter which would severely limit his chances in Klopp’s side. He would likely be third-choice in the holding midfield role, and for a price that could rise to almost €35 million, a transfer to Anfield would be a mistake for both parties.

Keane and Kondogbia are two talented players with bright futures ahead of them at only 23 years of age, however, neither fit well with Klopp’s tactics yet both carry significant price tags. Spending £25-30 million each on two players that are speculative fits in the team would be a huge mistake and one that Klopp is highly unlikely to make.

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