Liverpool supposedly wanted Jonathan David in the summer. After seeing him this season, they’ll surely still want him.
The Liverpool Echo believes the Reds had three primary attacking targets: Jonathan David, Ismaila Sarr, and Diogo Jota. They went for Jota, obviously.
Sarr remained at Watford, while David did make a move. The Canadian forward signed for Lille, costing the French side a reported £27m.
Things started very slowly for David. He had no goals in 13 games but right now, no one could criticise Lille’s move.
They currently sit at the top of Ligue 1, two points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. And things picked up for David.
After nine Ligue 1 games without a goal, he now has seven in his last 18 – much better. But that’s not the reason we think Liverpool will be watching with raised eyebrows.
David might be the best front-line presser in Europe right now. That’s no exaggeration.
For forwards, FBRef has him down as pressing 10.69 times per game in the attacking third. That is quite literally the highest rate in any of Europe’s big 5 leagues from a forward.
He’s really, really good at it, too. Lille win the ball back 30 per cent of the time when David presses – that’s in the 81st percentile across those leagues.
In a more raw sense, he wins it back over five times per game. That’s 93rd percentile.
He wins tackles, too, (78th percentile) and interceptions (85th percentile). David is an elite defensive forward. And that’s important.
Liverpool need a long-term replacement for Roberto Firmino, after all, and he’s arguably the absolute best all-around defensive forward in the world.
Firmino is 98th percentile for tackles in the attacking third, 93rd percentile for pressing, 99th for blocking passes, 86th for combined tackles and interceptions. Again, that’s all for forwards in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
This might all sound like filler and not really want you want from a forward. And that’s largely correct – it’s about threatening the opposition box, first and foremost.
But the fact is, Firmino does all of this stuff at the elite level. Once he’s out of the side, Liverpool lose it. Their pressing is objectively worse and they win the ball back less.
David, though, represents an opportunity to replace it quite well. He’s even scoring some goals, suggesting there’s room for growth.
Because that’s the thing about David – this is all still just potential. The kid just turned 21, yet is showcasing an ability that few can match.
If Liverpool could refine the rest of his skillset, they’d get a special and unique forward. They were interested before and we imagine that’s only increased with this season.
Lille have had financial troubles this season, too. We do wonder if Liverpool might just see what the price-tag for David is this time around.