With it uncertain whether Liverpool will eventually land a deal to sign top target Jude Bellingham next summer, there are some interesting alternatives.
In less than a year’s time, the complexion of Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield could be much different.
Meanwhile, Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho will all be a year older, while question marks persist over Curtis Jones‘ place alongside Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho and Stefan Bajcetic in the future.
Widespread and frequent reports have named Bellingham as Liverpool’s priority target for 2023, which is certainly understandable given his age, quality, experience and potential.
But with every big European club likely to be in contact with Dortmund over a deal which could exceed £100 million, it would be wise to draw up a list of alternatives.
Though not exhaustive, Liverpool’s recruitment staff will rely on statistics to identify and whittle down their targets – which is where, for those unable to access the most sophisticated databases, FBref comes in.
According to their numbers, the following 10 players are most similar to Bellingham in terms of their output – including one current Liverpool player and two known targets:
- 1. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Inter Milan) – 33, CM/AM
- 2. Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig) – 25, CM
- 3. Brais Mendez (Real Sociedad) – 25, CM/LM/RW
- 4. Naby Keita (Liverpool) – 27, CM
- 5. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) – 27, CM
- 6. Adrien Thomasson (Strasbourg) – 28, CM/AM
- 7. Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta) – 24, DM/CM
- 8. Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach) – 25, CM/AM
- 9. Ibrahima Sissoko (Strasbourg) – 24, DM/CM/CB
- 10. Pedri (Barcelona) – 19, CM
The list is an interesting one, not least due to the inclusion of Keita – a player already on Liverpool’s books – and both Konrad Laimer and Florian Neuhaus.
Prior to the deadline-day signing of Arthur on loan from Juventus, the Reds weighed up a possible move for RB Leipzig midfielder, though the sense is that the Austrian will see out the final months of his contract before joining Bayern Munich.
Neuhaus emerged as a target for Liverpool in the lead up to Gini Wijnaldum‘s switch to Paris Saint-Germain, only for a move to never come to fruition.
Elsewhere, it stands to reason that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedri would both be discredited, particularly given the latter’s status at Barcelona and the €1 billion release clause in his contract.
Like 33-year-old Mkhitaryan, Strasbourg midfielder Adrien Thomasson may be considered too old at 28, which could also be the case with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at Lazio, who turns 28 in February.
There are two more interesting candidates, though, in Real Sociedad’s Brais Mendez and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners, especially given their goal threat from midfield.
Whether Liverpool would consider any of the 10 names on the list remains to be seen, but there is always value in statistical comparison when scouting potential alternatives.