When it comes to Liverpool’s frontline, adaptability is the watchword. Last season, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, and Takumi Minamino each started at least one game in each of the three eligible positions.
The make-up of Jurgen Klopp’s new-look preferred front three has yet to be defined, but the Reds’ striking recruits in 2021-22 have already demonstrated their versatility. Luis Diaz has already played on both wings for Liverpool, while Darwin Nunez has played centrally and on the left for Benfica.
As a result, it’s no surprise that the club is associated with more players who can play many positions on the pitch. The possibility of Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio joining Liverpool is persistent speculation.
The Reds were said to have launched a £34 million approach for the Spanish international last summer, and it was reported in February that he had had proposals from both Arsenal and Liverpool. With Sadio Mane’s tenure at the club coming to an end and Mohamed Salah nearing the final year of his contract, Asensio might be on the move.
The 26-year-old has recently had his highest goal-scoring season, netting ten goals for the first time in his career. According to WhoScored, Asensio scored six goals as a right striker in Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 system, as well as three goals in two midfield outings and two goals from the bench.
In his seven seasons in La Liga, he has scored 10 of his 32 league goals when starting on the left side of the attack and eight when beginning on the opposite side. The explanation to why the Madrid player has achieved new heights this season may be found in a number of interconnected elements.
Only 15 players (one of whom played less minutes) in Europe’s top five leagues have scored more goals from beyond the penalty area than Asensio. This is an area that Liverpool might improve in terms of goal scoring. In 2021/22, they led the Premier League in shots from beyond the box, although four clubs scored more long-range goals than them, with Manchester City scoring nearly twice as many as them (15 versus eight).
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Asensio, on the other hand, not only proved helpful from afar, but he also took a lot of shots from favorable spots. His predicted goals per 90 minutes ratio of 0.40 was the greatest of his top-flight career, according to Understat. Although he wasn’t exactly among the best in Europe last season, it put him in the same league as Phil Foden, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Marco Reus. It’s also comparable to what Mane has brought to Liverpool when he plays wide, and the Senegalese international is one of the top ten players to whom Asensio is most similar (according to Statsbomb’s statistics).
He also worked opponent goalkeepers at a high level. Only seven players in England, France, Germany, Italy, or Spain with at least 64 shots (Asensio’s total) had a higher percentage of their shots within the goal frame. As a result of his accuracy, he narrowly pushed Salah out of the top ten guys in the Premier League for shots on target per 90 minutes.
Liverpool has learned firsthand how dangerous Asensio can be. He scored the second goal in Real’s 3-1 first-leg Champions League quarter-final triumph, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Spaniard’s goal essentially terminated the tie, since the return match ended 0-0.
Could Asensio, on the other hand, wind up with the Reds? This summer, it appears to be a highly doubtful transfer. But what about a year from now, when both he and Salah will be out of contract? That appears to be a lot more plausible. If the Egyptian goes on at that time, Asensio might provide Klopp’s attacking options for 2023/24 even more versatility.