Ezequiel Lavezzi has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield before the end of the transfer window, but how good an addition would he be? Henry Jackson assesses the 29-year-old’s strengths and weaknesses.
On Monday, the Daily Star reported that Paris Saint- Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi was on the verge of leaving the club, after contract talks had stalled.
There were also stories from the French media claiming that a deal had been agreed between PSG and Liverpool for the signing of the Argentina international.
At this stage of the season it’s always virtually possible to know what to believe, but if Lavezzi were to make the switch to Anfield, how good a signing would he prove to be?
On his day, Lavezzi is a world-class attacking talent, and one who has the ability to turn a game in an instant. The 29-year-old has electrifying pace at his disposal, can beat a man and is physically very strong.
The way he tore Chelsea to shreds during his time at Napoli, in the 2011/12 Champions League, perfectly highlighted what he is capable of, and it was consistent displays like that which earned him a reported €30m move to PSG in the summer of 2012.
The 37-time capped Argentina international is happy operating anywhere across a front three, but is probably at his most effective in a wide left role, cutting inside and linking up with the midfield and centre forward.
The void left by Luis Suarez is clearly the number one priority that Brendan Rodgers needs to address at the club now- the Uruguayan’s absence was alarmingly evident during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Southampton at Anfield- and although not necessarily a natural striker, Lavezzi would be a top class signing.
His experience of playing high-pressured Champions League football would also prove valuable when you consider how inexperienced the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge are in that respect, among others.
The first thing that springs to mind when you read rumours of Lavezzi joining the Reds is the fact that he turns 30 next May.
While he may still be as quick and effective as ever, there would be question marks over whether he would be able to justify what is likely to be a hefty fee over a long period of time. It also goes against FSG’s transfer policy to date.
Another criticism that has been aimed at the former Napoli man, particularly during his time in France, is his goalscoring.
23 goals in 90 games for the French giants is not a bad tally, but when you consider he’s playing in comfortably the best team in Ligue 1, where goals often flow, you would perhaps expect him to be a little more lethal in front of goal.
According to Squawka, Lavezzi won 52 per cent of his duels, while his shot accuracy was 61 per cent. These rather highlight the fact that the Argentine can be a little unpredictable at times.
The table below takes a look at how Lavezzi’s displays last season compared to that of Reds starlet Raheem Sterling in their respective leagues:
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In fairness to Lavezzi, his statistics are far from poor, but what it does go to show is just how fantastic Sterling was last season. He was superior in almost every aspect of his game, and at 10 years Lavezzi’s junior his potential is huge.
It’s worth stressing, however, that Lavezzi didn’t always start for PSG, often coming on as an impact substitute instead. That can make the statistics a little misleading.
Although Lavezzi might not always be the most consistent player around, his superb natural talent and ability to be a match-winner would make him a terrific signing by Liverpool.
Acquiring his signature would be a big statement of intent by the club, as they look to mount a genuine assault on both the Premier League and Champions League in 2014/15.
On the down side, he would not be the ideal replacement for Suarez- someone like Radamel Falcao or Lavezzi’s PSG teammate Edinson Cavani would fit the bill more in that respect- because of the fact he is not a natural goalscorer and is happier playing out wide.
He has the potential to take Liverpool up another notch, but even if he did join the Reds, there would still be that nagging feeling that Rodgers’ side are lacking something centrally.