De Paul, Neuhaus & 10 possible Liverpool replacements for Gini Wijnaldum
Liverpool are set to lose Georginio Wijnaldum when his contract expires in the summer, but how should they go about replacing him?
The Reds brought Thiago Alcantara into their midfield in the summer and should begin to see more from him in the coming games, but Wijnaldum will leave a gaping hole in their midfield stocks.
In the face of the pandemic and the likelihood that they miss out on Champions League football, available funds could prove to be a stumbling block but the Dutchman must be replaced if Liverpool are to make their way back to the top.
Yves Bissouma – Brighton
The Malian has been a staple of Graeme Potter’s side, playing on 25 occasions in the league this season, and has been crucial in build-up, transition and defensive phases.
Bissouma, 24, leads Brighton with two tackles per 90 minutes and averages the most recoveries out of any outfield player with 8.6 P90.
As well as that, he ranks in the top five in the side for passes P90 and passing accuracy. His physicality allows him to get between boxes and be effective on both sides of the ball, which are the hallmarks of a Jurgen Klopp midfielder.
Florian Neuhaus – Borussia Monchengladbach
At 23 years of age, Florian Neuhaus’ stocks in European football have risen considerably across the last two seasons with his eye-catching displays for Borussia Monchengladbach.
Neuhaus has played 23 times in the Bundesliga this season, scoring four goals and registering four assists in a highly productive campaign to date.
|Statistic||Neuhaus in 2020/21|
|Final third passes P90||14.2|
A goal threat from midfield is something the Reds don’t currently have, and Neuhaus’ four strikes along with 1.5 shots P90 and just about a touch in the opposition’s box each game, he would provide that if he were to make the switch to Anfield.
Neuhaus is active in Gladbach’s passages of play out of defence, averages 7.5 recoveries P90 and has a goal threat, making him a tantalising option for Klopp’s Reds.
Very similarly to Neuhaus, de Paul has five goals and five assists in 25 Serie A games, but is even more active than the German going forward.
De Paul attempts 2.3 shots P90 and averages about two touches in the opposition box P90, more than most of Liverpool’s current midfield crop.
Pundits and fans alike have been screaming for Liverpool to sign an attack-minded midfielder, and de Paul could be the man. He has a Serie A high 17 big chances created and completes 3.2 dribbles P90, sixth best in the entire league among players to have played 500 minutes.
He still does his defensive work, though, winning 8.3 duels P90 and drops in deep to receive possession all over the pitch with an average of 78.3 touches P90.
Manuel Locatelli – Sassuolo
Staying in Serie A, former Milan youth product Manuel Locatelli has shone in the green and black of Sassuolo this season.
In an incredibly exciting Sassuolo side, Locatelli averages over 100 touches P90 and over 80 passes, with a team high 22.9 passes into the final third P90 despite him often playing as the No.6.
He also ranks second in the team for tackles and duels won P90, and at 23 years of age has a huge ceiling to break through in his career.
The Reds would have to contest strong interest from the likes of Juventus and Manchester City, but Locatelli could be a brilliant replacement for their Dutch No.5.
Marcel Sabitzer – RB Leipzig
Marcel Sabitzer originally came through RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig as a winger or centre forward, but has slowly transitioned deeper in recent seasons becoming a No.10 and now a deep-lying playmaker.
The 26-year-old has five Bundesliga goals for Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig this season and is averaging the most touches and passes P90 of his career to date.
The Austrian has become a fantastically well-rounded midfielder, and coming from a Leipzig side that play not too dissimilar from Klopp’s Liverpool, he would be able to adapt well if he was to arrive at Anfield.
Nadiem Amiri – Bayer Leverkusen
Originally bursting onto the scene with Hoffenheim, Nadiem Amiri has taken his game to the next level at Bayer Leverkusen.
His six assists in the league so far are already a career-high with plenty of action still to come, and his efficiency in defence is something to keep an eye on.
At 24 years of age he represents the ideal Klopp age for a new season and could be one for the manager to develop into the next star at Anfield.
Kerem Demirbay – Bayer Leverkusen
Amiri’s teammate at Leverkusen and formerly at Hoffenheim, Kerem Demirbay impressed against Liverpool in Champions League qualification in 2017.
He has since developed into a leading Bundesliga midfielder, similarly to Sabitzer by transition further back in the pitch.
From a holding midfield position he is not afraid to shoot from distance with 2.3 attempts P90 and shows his full passing range with 7.3 long balls P90.
A technical yet resolute midfielder, Demirbay would complement the qualities of Liverpool’s other midfield players nicely if he were to make the move to England.
Houssem Aouar – Lyon
Despite it seeming like a move to Arsenal was on the cards, Liverpool are believed to be in for highly-rated Lyon midfield Houssem Aouar.
The 22-year-old has fast become Lyon’s star play from midfield, dictating the tempo of games and providing a creative spark through the middle of the pitch.
He has eight goal contributions in Ligue 1 this season and averages a massive 3.5 shots and 6.4 touches in the opposition box P90.
Aouar would perhaps be slightly outside Liverpool’s price-range, especially given the amount of interest in him, but his signing would be a huge coup for a player that develop to be one of the very best.
Denis Zakaria – Borussia Monchengladbach
Back to the Bundesliga and back to Gladbach, Denis Zakaria is almost certain to leave the club in the summer and is believed to be on Liverpool’s radar.
Despite having only played 16 times in the Bundesliga this season, Zakaria has impressed alongside Neuhaus in midfield, providing a more physical presence alongside the German’s polish.
Wijnaldum’s biggest strength is his ball retention, and Zakaria loses the ball just 7.9 times P90 and has an 88% passing accuracy for the season.
Another 24-year-old, the Swiss could be readily available for a reasonable fee and would fit the Wijnaldum role very well.
Curtis Jones – Liverpool
One option for the Reds, particularly if they don’t have the necessary funds to make a big purchase, could be to further Curtis Jones’ development by placing him straight into Wijnaldum’s role.
The young Scouser has impressed in his first full season with the senior team, making 20 appearances in the Premier League to go with five in the Champions League.
Jones has a team-high 93% pass accuracy on the season and is in the top five for passes into the final third, interceptions and dribbles P90.
Adept at using either foot, Jones only turned 20 in January and has a huge future ahead of him at his boyhood club, and he could have his development fast-tracked by filling in for Wijnaldum.