According to The Athletic, RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano represents Liverpool’s top defensive target.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has a contract in Germany he signed earlier this year which contains a £40 million release clause that will become active during the summer window.
Despite the reports, as things stand, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool aren’t planning to bring anyone to Anfield for now with all recruitment work taking place at present focused on next summer.
However, these situations can still change and Liverpool have shown flexibility in the past, they are not prone to knee-jerk reactions meaning if a target is brought in, it will have been an addition that has been a long time in the making.
With that said, it is not impossible that a summer scenario is brought forward to January if the need and availability match-up, which given Liverpool’s sustained transfer model, makes a strong case for Upamecano as a viable long-term option for Klopp.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
As Liverpool gear closer towards the reopening of the transfer window, we’ve taken a look at Upamecano’s statistics on WhoScored, comparing them with Liverpool’s internal options throughout the 2020/21 campaign.
Of course, stats do not tell the full story, but when combined with catching a glimpse of Upamecano in the Champions League, it offers a greater insight into the type of player Liverpool could inherit in the future.
This may be of interest to Liverpool supporters if The Athletic’s reports are accurate in regards to the France international at the top of the club’s transfer Wishlist.
WhoScored’s comparison is split into defensive, offensive and passing numbers. We’ve placed Upamecano against Liverpool’s most consistent defender so far this season: Joe Gomez.
For centre-backs, the only place to start is with defensive stats and it’s fair to say when you consider the number of minutes played, Upamecano is by far the standout figure.
Upamecano has made more tackles per game (1.2 to 0.4), interceptions (0.8 to 0.6) and blocks (0.7 to 0.3).
Gomez does come out on top in terms of clearances (4 to 1.8) while the England international has marginally committed less fouls (0.9 to 1.7).
Upamecano’s stats paint the picture of a proactive, front foot defender, whereas Gomez is happier to take a step back observe what’s happening in front of him before placing himself in the perfect positions to clear and thwart away danger.
One thing that cannot be measured here is pace, which considering both defenders are amongst the quickest centre-backs in world football, such combined recovery pace makes for a handsomely interesting prospect if both are paired together in the future.
One standout attacking threat
Going forward, there is only one outstanding candidate when it comes to being a threat from set-pieces with Upamecano coming out on top.
Upamecano has one goal to his name this season while Gomez is still yet to score for Liverpool entirely since his £3.5 million move from Chartlon Athletic in 2015.
The former has also made a shade more key passes (0.5 to 0.1) although Gomez just edges the battle in terms of dribbles completed (0.6 to 0.5) which shows both players are confident in striding out with the ball from the back and playing passes.
That’s something Gomez has developed and improved on immeasurably playing alongside Virgil van Dijk and it’s important that Liverpool find a player with similar qualities as long-term replacement to the irreplaceable Dutch defender.
Upamecano is slightly less secure in possession, with more dispossessions (0.5 to 0.4) and unsuccessful touches (0.7 to 0.3).
That could be because he is the main defensive figure for Leipzig and takes more risks on the ball than Gomez, or simply the fluctuations you might expect from a young defender who only turned 22 last month.
Stark passing contrast
The pair’s number have been broadly comparable so far, but there is a stark contrast in their passing statistics – where Upamecano outshines Gomez substantially.
As well as the aforementioned key passes numbers, these stats bear out that Gomez isn’t typically on the ball as much as his defensive superior Van Dijk.
Gomez is making an average of 79 passes per game, dwarfed by Upamecano, who has over 86 in a match.
It is worth mentioning if Upamecano was partnered alongside the best defender in world football, his passing statistics could see a considerable decrease.
Gomez’s pass accuracy is around 89 per cent whereas Upemacano’s is slightly superior with over 90 per cent. But as mentioned above, a ball in the Frenchman’s court is that he isn’t playing it safe, he’s taking risks and nine in every 10 balls are finding the target.
He’s playing 7.3 long passes a game too, compared to Gomez’s 5.6. Some of these variations may be attributed to the tactical demands of their managers, but it indicates Upamecano has the edge in terms of passing range.
Liverpool fans will continue to watch Upamecano with interest to see if the eye test backs up the impressive statistics, and if they do, it may further convince Klopp to splash out £40 million to make the duo the club’s next long-term central defensive partnership.