Liverpool want to sign Ricardo Pepi, according to reports. So who is the striker and why is he making waves?
CBS Sports believe Liverpool are one of several clubs looking at Ricardo Pepi. The FC Dallas forward has requested a transfer, forcing his club to consider sales.
So who exactly is Pepi?
Ricardo Pepi backgroud
Pepi is an 18-year-old striker from Texas. He came through FC Dallas’s youth academy, shining at every age group and earning a senior contract at 16.
In fact, Dallas gave him his first-team debut literally the day after he signed that contract. He’s long been a bright prospect there but things are really coming together this season.
After scoring only three goals in his first 26 MLS appearances, Pepi has 13 in 27 this season. Those goals impressed the USA National Team, too, who gave him a debut in August.
It went very well, too, as Pepi scored in a 4-1 win over Honduras. He followed that with both goals against Jamaica in a 2-0 win.
Pepi doesn’t turn 19 until January, either, making him a very young player for senior level. Despite his age, he continues to impress at every new level.
So why do Liverpool want him?
Any 18-year-old performing in a halfway-decent league and at an international level will catch attention. Pepi is certainly doing all of that.
But Liverpool are likely looking at more than just his goal-haul here. His more subtle stats really stack up, too.
Using Statsbomb data on Fbref.com, we can see how Pepi compares to other strikers in MLS. What stands out above all is that he’s a fantastic pressing forward.
Pepi is in the 89th-percentile for pressing per game – he typically applies pressure 22 times in a match. The teenager presses all over the pitch, too, and ranks highly for things like tackling in his defensive third and winning interceptions.
We’re looking at a strong defensive forward here, then. Someone who’s willing to press all game and do the dirty work. That’s essentially a requirement to be a Liverpool forward, making it no real surprise that there’s interest here.
And when you throw in those 13 goals – all from open play – you can easily see a player with great potential. Not just general potential, either, but the potential to be exactly what Liverpool want.
What’s the likelihood here?
We went over the situation here but it’ll come down to how ‘ready’ Liverpool think Pepi is. The jump from MLS to the Premier League is a big one, especially for a teenager.
The asking price is apparently around £10m and for a young first-team player, that’s very good. It’s too much if Liverpool believe he needs development in the Under 23s, however.
It’s one to watch, then. Pepi could be an ideal signing, though – if the Reds think he’s ready.