Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Carragher Encourages Liverpool To Recruit This Bundesliga Defender In January: Ideal Replacement For Van Dijk?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In the latest edition of Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher encouraged Liverpool to recruit Red Bull Leipzig centre-half Dayot Upamecano when the transfer window reopens in January. The former Liverpool defender said,

“There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano; there is talk of him. Whether he has the profile of Van Dijk, I think he is only 6’1″ or 6’2”, so he is maybe not that aerial, but if he is the one they wanted then bring it forward.

“Pay the extra money and do it on January 1st.

“That means getting through 11 league games without Virgil van Dijk.

“One thing to say about Virgil van Dijk is that in the last 23 games they have only kept five clean sheets, and Van Dijk played all of them, so it is not like everything was perfect. We saw the seven against Aston Villa, and we saw the Leeds game.

“But I think they have to go big with a signing.”

Upamecano’s Mesmerising Rise To Prominence At The Red Bull Arena

The Evreux-born established himself as one of the top centre-backs in European football as he produced a string of dominant displays at the heart of the Leipzig backline. He appeared in 38 fixtures for the German outfit last season, picking up two assists, nine yellow cards and one red card in the process across multiple competitions.

The 21-year-old has made a solid start to this campaign after featuring in four league matches for Julian Nagelsmann’s side while averaging 1.5 tackles, 0.8 interceptions, 1.8 clearances, 0.8 shots, 0.5 key passes and 0.5 dribbles per game in the Bundesliga. The French youngster has also been tidy with his ball-distribution after completing 90.6% of his attempted passes in the German top tier (stats via whoscored).

Upamecano is yet to win a major trophy during his time in Germany. Therefore, he might welcome a switch to Anfield in search of more success this winter. However, the Bundesliga whizkid won’t be a cheap option for Liverpool if they decide to listen to Carragher’s suggestion by opting for a move to land him during the January transfer period.

Carragher encourages Liverpool to recruit Upamecano in January (Upamecano is in action in the picture)
Dayot Upamecano of Leipzig runs with the ball during the pre-season friendly match between RB Leipzig and Aston Villa at Red Bull Arena on August 3, 2019, in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images)

What Will The French Prospect Bring To Anfield?

Standing at 1.86m, Upamecano can be a commanding presence inside his penalty box and has enough pace in his locker to make a few recovering runs at the back. He can time his tackles well, which allows him to win possession back when his teammates need him the most.

The French defender is strong in the air and can win his fair share of 50-50 duels with the opposition at both ends of the field. However, only time will tell whether he has what it takes to maintain his high standards outside German football.

Will Upamecano Be An Ideal Replacement For Virgil Van Dijk In January?

Virgil Van Dijk sustained an ACL injury against Everton in the Merseyside derby which could rule him out of the remainder of this campaign. Hence, the January transfer window cannot come any sooner for Jurgen Klopp as he is currently short of quality in his defensive department. Both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have been injury-prone in the recent past while Rhys Williams and Sepp van den Berg lack experience of playing at the senior level week in week out.

Fabinho and Nathaniel Phillips are the other options for the centre-back positions at Anfield. Thus, it is a no-brainer for Klopp to go into the transfer market as soon as the window opens in search of a quality defender who can fill in Van Dijk’s big shoes in the second half of this season. Upamecano fits the bill perfectly as he has got all the right attributes needed to succeed playing in Klopp’s style of play at Merseyside.

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