As Liverpool’s seemingly never-ending search for a defensive midfielder continues, Cheick Doucoure has emerged as the latest leading candidate.
Attempts to bring Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to the club have been thwarted by Chelsea, leaving the squad without a recognised No. 6 with the campaign already underway.
More recent reports have indicated that Liverpool are “stepping up” their pursuit of Doucoure, with just over two weeks of the window remaining.
Let’s take a closer look at the latest name on everybody’s lips.
Who is Cheick Doucoure?
Strengths: Tackling, passing, dribbling, interceptions
He was an ever-present in the Eagles’ side last season, leading to his recognition at the club’s end-of-season awards.
The midfielder also has 12 Mali caps to his name and it is therefore worth remembering that he will join the likes of Mohamed Salah at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Doucoure is excellent at breaking up play, registering 1.6 interceptions and 2.3 tackles per 90 minutes in the top flight last season as per WhoScored.
Liverpool found themselves open and exposed throughout the summer and it was a trend that continued in the second half against Chelsea.
A specialist deep lying midfielder with Premier League experience could be just what the Reds are looking for and Doucoure ticks a lot of those boxes.
Pros and cons
Doucoure is adept at clearing up danger and could be a huge asset from a defensive standpoint for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
He recorded 1.4 clearances per league game last season, as well as chipping in with three assists in the other direction.
For context, Lavia and Caicedo made 0.8 and 0.7 clearances per game last season, with Lavia failing to notch an assist and Caicedo making just one.
His Premier League experience would undoubtedly be a benefit in that he would be expected to hit the ground running as the side’s only out-and-out No. 6.
Doucoure’s pass completion of 83.6 percent falls slightly below that of Lavia and Caicedo, with the two missed targets registering 86.4 percent and 88.8 percent in the 2022/23 Premier League.
His 36.7 passes per game also comes up well short of Caicedo’s 59.7, although it is worth noting that Brighton finished sixth and typically saw more of the ball.
Where would he fit in?
An easy choice as far as the manager is concerned!
The one gaping hole on the teamsheet has been the deep-lying role, which will either involve anchoring a midfield three or accompanying Trent Alexander-Arnold depending on system.
Liverpool’s ‘box’ midfield facilitated a run of seven straight wins towards the end of the campaign and allowed Alexander-Arnold the freedom to express himself further up the pitch.
Doucoure would likely line up to the left of the Reds’ No. 66 ahead of the back line while being tasked with extinguishing fires should the opposition be heading towards goal.
At Selhurst Park, the Malian has typically operated as a lone holding midfielder behind the likes of Eberechi Eze and Will Hughes.
This means that he is more than capable of shouldering the bulk of the defensive responsibility from the centre of the park.
While it was an impressive debut for the World Cup winner, it became clear that the balance still wasn’t quite right and that his talents would be better served further up the field.
Liverpool need a defensive midfielder and they need one quickly, with Doucoure’s first year in England at a mid-table side hopefully standing him in good stead for a potential move to Anfield.
Whether the Reds make their move in the coming days remains to be seen, but the 23-year-old certainly looks to be on the radar at the very least.