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How good is Jeremy Doku and why do Liverpool want him?

How good is Jeremy Doku? Liverpool reportedly want the 19-year-old from Rennes.

Liverpool supposedly want Jeremy Doku this summer. That’s according to journalist Sacha Tavolieri, anyway.

He told The Anfield Talk that the Reds had interest and could pay around £38m to sign Doku from Rennes. It’s a fairly hefty fee, so let’s have a look at what Liverpool would get.

How good is Jeremy Doku?

A few things immediately jump out about Doku. Firstly, he’s very young – still just 19. Secondly, he’s a fantastic dribbler and not just for his age.

Thirdly, Doku doesn’t seem to score or assist many. So how good is he exactly?

Let’s start with his output. No, Doku really doesn’t provide all that much. In 26 Ligue 1 starts last season, he scored just twice and assisted three.

That’s hardly the kind of record you want from a £38m signing and it doesn’t suggest that there’s a huge talent here. But there’s a lot more to it.

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For one, Doku doesn’t take many shots – he averaged just 1.2 per game last season. He’s slightly more creative, though, creating 1.4 chances per game. That’s a decent number as creating is harder than just shooting.

But he’s not exactly creating in a side flush with goals. Rennes only scored 52 goals last season – that was fewer than the five teams above them and the two below them.

And it wasn’t because the team struggled to create chances, either. Rennes averaged the third-most shots in Ligue 1. They just lack goalscorers.

It’s reasonable to assume, then, that Doku could be a lot more creative in a team with goalscorers. Liverpool certainly have those.

So what about his strengths? Doku showcases skills that are quite formidable for a 19-year-old and they suggest there’s an elite player there.

The standout is his dribbling. Doku is in the top 3% of wingers for ‘progressive carries per 90 minutes’ across Europe’s top 5 leagues over the last year.

A progressive carry is just a shorthand way of saying a dribble that moves the ball at least five yards towards the opposition goal from within the attacking half. You want your players doing that as often as possible but it’s difficult to do.

Doku does it with ease. He’s already elite at it. The teenager carries the ball towards goal over 10 times per game and he’s only going to get better at it.

Then comes his passing – he completes 80% and attempts 37 per 90. Doku is a really solid passer already, while he clearly has room for growth.

His passing and dribbling skills get put to good use, too. Doku is 69th percentile for ‘shot-creating actions’. That is, a dribble, pass or shot that leads to an effort on goal.

There’s one other factor to consider here, too – his defending.

Doku presses around 16 times per 90. That puts him comfortably in the top 50% of wingers for pressing and he’s still only 19.

Photo by Vincent Kalut / Photonews via Getty Images

His tackling, however, is the real headline here. Doku wins over two tackles per game, which puts him in the top 9% of wingers across the top leagues. That’s pretty magnificent for a young player with a lot to learn.

So why do Liverpool want him?

Because Doku could be perfect. That’s really no exaggeration and it’s possible Liverpool see it that way.

Per the Guardian, they tried to sign him a few years ago and told his father they saw him as their next Sadio Mane. Doku really could be.

He’s a magnificent dribbler already and moves the ball forward with ease. Then there is clear potential for him to be a truly elite pressing forward, much like Mane.

Liverpool can look at Doku as a project but one that could yield exactly the type of player they want. He’s rapid, direct, intelligent, and willing to provide for teammates. He’s also a fantastic tackler and a willing presser.

Put it all together and you have someone who could thrive in a ‘gegenpressing’ system. Doku wants to press defenders, win the ball back, and carry it forward.

We can only imagine what Jurgen Klopp and co. could mould Doku into. His potential ceiling is very, very high.

Stats per FBref.com.

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