Luis Diaz’s season of trauma and triumph – and what’s next for Liverpool’s No. 7

After a uniquely challenging season, Luis Diaz has emerged with question marks over his future, but the winger’s efforts in 2023/24 should be applauded.

Diaz endured and enjoyed a campaign like no other in 2023/24, with the winger experiencing trauma and triumph.

He ended the season with another trophy to add to his list of honours – a two-time Carabao Cup winner already, along with his FA Cup and Community Shield – but it ended in frustration all the same.

It present an interesting quandary for the transfer window, as Liverpool and their No. 7 could face a tough decision.

Luis Diaz, 2023/24

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 31, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Started: 42 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 9
Unused sub: 5
Goals: 13
Assists: 5
Overall Season Rating: 7.14


Off-field trauma

2T5HK70 Liverpool's Luis Diaz (centre) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game by unveiling a shirt that reads (translated to English) 'Freedom for Dad' during the Premier League match at Kenilworth Road, Luton. Picture date: Sunday November 5, 2023.

It would be wrong to review Diaz’s second full season at Liverpool without acknowledging the traumatic circumstances for the winger and his family off the pitch.

The kidnapping of his parents, Luis Diaz Sr. and Cilenis Marulanda, in October saw the 27-year-old understandably withdrawn from contention as the search got underway in Colombia.

While Marulanda was swiftly rescued, the family faced a 12-day wait for Diaz Sr. to be freed by his captors, emerging from the La Guajira jungle visibly exhausted and emotional.

Liverpool pledged their support to Diaz in both the search for his father and caring for the player and his family back on Merseyside.

On the pitch, Diogo Jota held a ‘Diaz 7’ shirt aloft after scoring against Nottingham Forest, a day after the kidnapping, while there were tears as Diaz himself returned to net a 95th-minute equaliser against Luton.

‘LIBERTAD PARA PAPA’, or ‘FREEDOM FOR DAD’, read the message as Diaz lifted his shirt.

Colombia's Luis Diaz celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Brazil during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 at Roberto Melendez stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

Diaz was back in the starting lineup on the day of his father’s release, in the 3-2 defeat to Toulouse on November 9, with Jurgen Klopp saying “it looks like Lucho is really happy, thumbs up all the time.”

And there were emotional scenes back in Colombia as Diaz scored twice in a 2-1 win over Brazil with his parents in the stands in Barranquilla.

The Diaz family promptly relocated to Merseyside, with Diaz Sr. following his son home and away, becoming a cult figure among supporters as he roared him on from the stands.

That holds a unique lens over Diaz’s season, with it certainly remarkable that he went on to clock more minutes on the pitch for Liverpool than all but Virgil van Dijk.


Liverpool’s most-used forward

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 27, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz walks off after being substituted during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On the pitch, Diaz followed up a season ruined by two serious knee injuries to become the most consistently available forward in Klopp’s ranks.

While Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota all missed spells due to injury, Diaz’s only absence came due to compassionate leave afforded by the club.

Even then, the No. 7 only missed two games, with Diaz otherwise making the matchday squad for every single fixture and featuring in 51 of those.

It has been noted that, despite his ubiquity on the pitch, his output in front of goal was worse than hoped: with 13 goals and five assists, he averaged one goal contribution every 201 minutes.

There were periods where he struggled to fire, including in the 1-1 draw with Man City in March that saw him skew a one-on-one with Stefan Ortega high and wide when sent through by Salah’s stunning pass.

After the Carabao Cup semi-final win over Fulham that saw Diaz score in the second leg, Klopp even joked that “I told him already ‘Man of the Match should have scored two goals and must have one assist’!”

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 26, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Honestly, he’s a fantastic player, absolutely fantastic,” the manager continued.

“There’s absolutely no criticism, but I wish he would have set up the second and scored the third.”

That was a frequent concern for supporters, with Diaz showing the necessary endeavour but, for whatever reason, regularly misfiring in front of goal.

Of course, that could be said for each of Liverpool’s senior forwards at some point or another in 2023/24, and it should be stressed that oftentimes Diaz was the standout performer in attack.

He certainly ended the season strongly, playing a useful role as foil to Gakpo, with the pair interchanging positions to allow the Dutchman to stand out from his natural spot on the left wing.

And with a new head coach arriving with a penchant for hardworking, tricky wingers, it could be a fresh opportunity for Diaz.


Key cog or spare part?

2WHHX6A Liverpool's Luis Diaz celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Burnley, at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Ongoing speculation over Diaz’s future, with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona credited with an interest, does paint his campaign in a different light.

As a new era begins on Merseyside, the Colombian could be considered one of Liverpool’s most saleable assets if the early courtship from France and Spain translates into a concrete bid.

His rate of 24 goals and 13 assists in 98 games for the club is far from the level expected of a first-choice starter in attack.

And turning 28 in January with three years left on his contract, the decision could be made to part ways with Diaz and build around a younger, more malleable new arrival.

It would be difficult even for the exceptional minds within Michael Edwards‘ new-look recruitment team to gauge how much of an impact trauma had on Diaz’s long-term performance levels, however.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From a supporter’s perspective, the 2023/24 season should be viewed as an impressive one from the No. 7 regardless.

Diaz showed an incredible level of not only fortitude but commitment to the cause that deserves to be more widely acknowledged.

But whether his output is scaleable enough to be a first-choice starter under Arne Slot next season and beyond is up for debate.

Best moment: A heroic equaliser against Luton, dedicated to his father.

Worst moment: The costly miss against Man City.

Role next season: If he stays, a valuable member of the attack – but that’s a big if.