Klopp to look to Amsterdam for Coutinho replacement?

The madness of the transfer window has calmed down for a while as the real football takes centre stage after the start of the World Cup last Thursday.
Joel Sanderson-Murray  |  18th June 2018

It has all gone a bit quiet on the transfer front for Liverpool since the club pulled out of a deal for Lyon captain Nabil Fekir last week.

Morocco to qualify from group B is 14/1.

The reasons behind the collapse of the deal for the French international have yet to be confirmed (and probably won’t) although reports suggest there to be an issue with Fekir’s medical history and risk of a future issue.

What is clear by the attempted move for Fekir is that Jurgen Klopp is looking for a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who left the club for Spanish champions Barcelona in January. That type of player that can operate in the front three or midfield three, the link between the midfield and attack, a role that Fekir would have been perfect for. Still think Fekir will sign? He is 23/20 to join Liverpool this summer.

But if Klopp is to acquire a player for that role this summer, he is most likely going to have to have a Plan B and look elsewhere, and perhaps he should be looking to Amsterdam.

 

HAKIM ZIYECH

There have been grumblings about Liverpool moving for Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech over numerous transfer windows in the past and it is a link that has resurfaced again since the Fekir deal collapsed.

This time there might just be some substance to it.

The Morocco international has been at Ajax for the last two seasons, having previously spent two years at both Heerenveen and FC Twente.

Heerenveen 2012-2014 36 apps, 11 goals (League)
FC Twente 2014-2016 68 apps, 30 goals (League)
Ajax 2016-2018 62 apps, 16 goals (League)

His goal return over his six seasons playing in the Eredivisie is really impressive for a player who has operated primarily in midfield or in the number ten position for the majority of his career.

Ian Doyle’s article on Ziyech in the Liverpool Echo this week contained quotes from a recent interview with the 25-year-old where he stated “I need a new challenge. At some point, it’s time to go.” So there definitely seems to be some scope for Ziyech moving on from Holland this summer, and going with his two-year-spells at each club so far it just seems polite to continue that little nuance.

Morocco to beat Portugal on Wednesday is 23/4.

Ziyech is a player with great technical ability with a playing style that is similar to that of Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez, and has some eye-catching numbers from last season to coincide with his undoubted ability.

 

HAKIM ZIYECH LEAGUE STATS 2017/2018

Chances created 133
Key passes 120
Goals 9
Assists 13
Pass accuracy 76%
Avg Duels won 46%

In the last 4 seasons Ziyech has created 50+ goals in around 120 games which is close to 1 in 2, a record which highlights the creative ability the player has.

There is ability that could tempt Jurgen Klopp into a move for the player, whether any link turns out to be genuine remains to be seen.

 

HOW DOES ZIYECH COMPARE WITH LIVERPOOL’S CURRENT MIDFIELDERS

Key Passes 2017/18 (League)

Ziyech 120
Milner 29
Oxlade-Chamberlain 22
Can 20
Wijnaldum 18

 

Goals 2017/18 (League)

Ziyech 9
Oxlade-Chamberlain 3
Can 2
Wijnaldum 1
Milner 0

 

Assists 2017/18 (League)

Ziyech 13
Oxlade-Chamberlain 7
Can 4
Wijnaldum 2
Milner 2

Comparing him to Liverpool’s midfielders it is very interesting to see Ziyech’s return better than the current occupants from the last season. This would not be in comparison to captain Jordan Henderson as he operates in a deeper role, which Ziyech does not play in.

Ajax finished 2nd in the Eredivisie on 79 points, four points behind eventual champions PSV, with Ziyech helping his club seal a place in next season’s Champions League.

Of course the standard and competitiveness of the Dutch league is completely different to that of the Premier League but these are still impressive stats that Ziyech produced and highlight the quality that the Moroccan could bring to Anfield.

It may well be interesting to watch Ziyech represent his country at this year’s World Cup, particularly in their next two games against Portugal and Spain where they will be expected to play on the counter-attack.

Portugal v Morocco – Wednesday 20 June, 1pm

Spain v Morocco – Monday 25 June, 7pm

The next step to replacing Coutinho after Fekir? This could be one to look out for.

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