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Opinion: Renato Sanches one step from being perfect Liverpool transfer

Renato Sanches could be the transfer Liverpool need right now. The Lille midfielder is one step from being perfect.

Liverpool let Gini Wijnaldum leave in the summer and then made the controversial decision not to replace him. It’s one that doesn’t quite look smart right now.

The Reds lack the same kind of solidity in midfield post-Wijnaldum, while he was also a very reliable presence. Not replacing him may not have been the right move.

But Liverpool can fix that. If they do eventually sign the right player then few could complain. We’d rather the Reds secured a good fit than rushed out to sign whoever is available.

The question, then, is who is that player? We think it might be Renato Sanches – he’s one step from being a perfect Liverpool transfer.

Renato Sanches to Liverpool?

Calcio Mercato claims Liverpool would like to sign Sanches this January. Le10Sport doesn’t mention the Reds but do say that Lille would sell the 24-year-old.

And if he’s available, Liverpool should problem move. Sanches could tick a lot of boxes for them.

Your Player Whose Transfer Value Blew UP In 2021

The Portugal midfielder is, at his best, a wonderful physical presence in midfield who can consistently drive the ball forward. When he gets going, Sanches is unstoppable.

His passing is solid, too, hovering at around 90% when short and around 86% over 30 yards. Those are excellent numbers, even if not quite at Wijnaldum levels.

But that’s largely because Sanches looks to get the ball forward. He’s averaged over five progressive passes per 90 over the previous two seasons. In this campaign, he’s at 10 per 90, albeit with a small sample size. That’s a Thiago number.

You can easily see how Sanches fits in with the ball, then. He’s a reliable passer who can also move the team forward by gifting it to a teammate or running with the ball himself.

And he’s very productive when he does those things. Sanches helped create around three shots per game over the previous two seasons.

This time, though, he’s playing at a very exciting level. Sanches averages 5.53 shot-creating-actions per 90 this season – a number only Dimitri Payet, Neymar and Amine Gouiri top in Ligue 1.

And on top of it all, Sanches is good without the ball. He actually averages more presses per 90 than Wijnaldum did at Liverpool. The 24-year-old is successful with them, too – 41% this season, which is a wonderful number.

Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There’s just one hiccup: that small sample size. Sanches isn’t on the pitch all that often and has suffered injury issues with Lille.

If Liverpool believe he can get past them – and at 24, it’s very possible – then Sanches would be a sensational addition in January. But it is an ‘if’. With several midfielders already battling injuries, adding another makes little sense.

That’s the last step, then. Sanches is potentially a dream development project for Liverpool, as we’ve said before, and he could become a world-class player.

If Liverpool can help him make that final step and play regularly.

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