Monday, June 27, 2022

Better Than Pepe: Why Liverpool Should Shift Their Attention Towards This La Liga Ace This Summer

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

Liverpool are seemingly keen on signing an attacker this summer, who can not only add more quality and depth into the attack but can also turn out to be a long-term replacement for Mohamed Salah. Manager Jurgen Klopp fears the Egyptian could leave the club, having recently identified Nicolas Pepe as his desired replacement for the winger this summer.

But, the LOSC Lille attacker, valued around €80 million, could be a massive gamble for Liverpool. Hence, the Reds should go after someone who could be signed for a lower fee whilst boasting immense potential. And very few players could match that criteria than Villarreal superstar Samuel Chukwueze.

Chukwueze’s rapid rise to prominence

A product of the Diamond football academy in Nigeria, Chukwueze was initially promoted to the Valencia senior team last summer. And since then, the 20-year-old has become a vital part of the Villarreal attack.

Indeed, the Nigerian international made 26 appearances in the league, scoring five goals and two assists. Although his scoring tally may not be as productive as Pepe, the youngster has had a much greater impact in breaking the shackles of the opposition defences.

What can Chukwueze add to the table?

Chukwueze is touted as the Nigerian Arjen Robben due to his immaculate control over the ball as well as a vicious left-foot. He loves to take on defenders and is an inverted right-winger, who likes to cut inside and have a shot on goal.

Chukwueze’s tendency to play like Robben has been backed by statistics, with the youngster averaging two dribbles per game this past season. He has also attempted 58 shots on goal, 55 of which have come from his left foot.

Aside from his dribbling and shooting prowess, Chukwueze is blessed with the sheer pace that makes him a scourge for the defenders, especially on the counter. He is quite good at creating chances as well, having averaged 0.8 key passes per game.

Why Chukwueze is a better option for Liverpool than Pepe?

The fact that Chukwueze is an inverted winger makes him an ideal fit to Liverpool’s style of play as they often utilise their fullbacks to make overlapping runs in behind the defence and whip in crosses into the box. As for the wingers, they shift into a central role and along with Roberto Firmino operate as a free-flowing attacking unit.

This will offer Chukwueze much more freedom and ideally play his natural game. The 20-year-old can also play in the attacking midfield role, which will allow Klopp to utilise him in the extra midfield slot in his preferred 4-3-3 formation.

But most importantly, it is believed that the Nigerian international could be available for just €63 million, which is considerably lower than Pepe’s €80 million valuation, especially considering the fact that he is four years younger than the Ivorian, thus making him a better option for the Reds.

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