- 18 March
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Who is Duje Caleta-Car? Liverpool eye Croatian in centre-back double swoop
Duje Caleta-Car could well be one of two new centre-backs to arrive at Kirkby on transfer deadline day as Liverpool look to reinforce their heavily depleted defence.
Soon after the Reds appeared to have nailed down Preston North End’s Ben Davies, Croatian defender Duje Caleta-Car was the subject of strong links to a deadline day move.
Liverpool have been in need of reinforcements at the back with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely to miss the remainder of the season with serious knee injuries.
Any deal reportedly hinges on Marseille’s ability to find a replacement for the 24-year-old, but the Reds appear eager to get the deal over the line before the window slams shut.
Who is Duje Caleta-Car?
The Croat has been a consistent performer for Marseille in Ligue 1 this season, featuring in 19 of the 20 games so far with 18 appearances being from the start – in fact, the one game he missed was only through suspension.
Standing at 188cm tall, Caleta-Car has played for Croatia 10 times and was part of the squad that lost in the World Cup final to France in 2018.
He is efficient in the air, winning 2.6 of his 3.7 aerial duels per 90 minutes while he also averages 4.4 clearances P90.
Quite similarly to van Dijk, Caleta-Car doesn’t engage in the tackle all that often – attempting just 0.8 tackles P90 while winning 0.6. He also attempts 6.3 total duels, winning 3.8 per game.
The 24-year-old is comfortable being on the ball and playing out of the back, averaging 68 touches and 57.2 passes P90, completing 85% of those while playing eight long balls.
|Aerial duels won P90||2.6||6||2.2|
That said, he isn’t one to necessarily carry the ball out of defence himself as he attempts just 0.1 dribbles P90.
His six recoveries P90 is more than any of the Liverpool centre-backs bar Fabinho and he remains fairly disciplined and efficient – he has been booked five times, commits 0.8 fouls P90 and has not made an error leading to a chance or a goal in the league this season.
Caleta-Car is a right-footer, interestingly a difference to Davies who would join as Liverpool’s only left-footed player in the position. Sven Botman of Lille, who Liverpool were heavily linked with earlier in the window, is also left-sided.
One thing Liverpool have missed from their stars, particularly van Dijk, has been a goalscoring threat at set pieces. Caleta-Car has scored two goals and recorded an assists in the league, while also creating three big chances.
Liverpool will be in a race against the clock to try and bring the Croatian to Anfield, but at 24 years of age and with a solid foundation behind him, Caleta-Car could be a perfect option for the Reds to fill in this season and provide reliable cover in campaigns to come.