Klopp could unearth his own De Bruyne in Liverpool swoop for £51m magician

footballfancast.com 84 days ago

The impressive midfielder is a reported target for the Reds ahead of January.

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The January transfer window is fast approaching and Liverpool could be in the market to bolster their squad ahead of the second half of the campaign.

Jurgen Klopp's side are currently top of the Premier League table and are one point ahead of Arsenal in second place after 16 matches.

They are in the title race after missing out on a top four finish at the end of the 2022/23 campaign and adding one or two more players next month could give their push for silverware an added boost.

Liverpool's last five Premier League fixtures (via Sofascore)

Team

Result

Crystal Palace

2-1 win

Sheffield United

2-0 win

Fulham

4-3 win

Man City

1-1 draw

Brentford

3-0 win

The Reds have only lost one top-flight match so far this season and boast the best defensive record with 15 goals conceded in their 16 games.

However, there is always room to improve and Liverpool are reportedly looking at a player who could come in to add to the manager's options in midfield and out wide.

Liverpool transfer news - Alex Baena

According to a recent report from 90min, the Reds are one of a number of clubs eyeing up Villarreal starlet Alex Baena ahead of a potential swoop for his services.

The outlet claimed that Aston Villa are keen on the talented youngster, who was managed by Unai Emery in Spain, and the Villans boss has urged the club to monitor the winger as they consider a January or summer approach to land his signature.

Villa are said to have been hugely impressed by his performances so far this season and they are now weighing up a move to bring him to England.

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90min add that Premier League giants Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal have also been scouting the Spanish whiz over the past 12 months and could, therefore, rival the Villans in January or at the end of the campaign.

Baena has a release clause in his current contract with Villarreal that stands at £51m and the report claimed that any interested party will likely have to match that fee in order to snatch him away from his home country in 2024.

However, there is no mention of how much the Reds would be willing to pay to secure his services or whether or not they are ready to make an official approach for him in January.

Klopp could, though, land his own version of Manchester City and Belgium superstar Kevin de Bruyne if he is able to bring Baena to Anfield.

Why Baena is similar to de Bruyne

The 22-year-old prospect is an outstanding creative threat who could consistently split open opposition defences in the Premier League in a similar way to how the Belgian whiz has over the course of many years in England.

As per FBref, de Bruyne is one of the most similar players to Baena based off their respective statistics over the last year - alongside fellow Premier League maestro Martin Odegaard.

Most similar players to Baena in Men's Big Five Leagues over the past 365 days

Player

Rank

Ilkay Gundogan

5

Teun Koopmeiners

4

Viktor Tsyhankov

3

Kevin de Bruyne

2

Martin Odegaard

1

In that time period, the Manchester City wizard ranks within the top 1% of his positional peers in the Men's Big Five Leagues and European competitions for assists (0.51), shot-creating actions (5.98), and Expected Assisted Goals (0.51) per 90.

The 32-year-old star has racked up 96 goals and 153 assists in 358 appearances in all competitions for the Cityzens, whilst predominantly playing as an attacking or central midfielder - along with a smattering of matches out wide.

De Bruyne has helped his team to win five Premier League titles, five League Cups, two FA Cups, and one Champions League during his time at The Etihad to date.

He has been a consistent creative presence in the heart of Pep Guardiola's midfield and his aforementioned statistics show that de Bruyne is one of the best creators in Europe.

The experienced talent has the ability to create opportunities for his teammates at an exceptional rate in comparison to his

positional peers and Klopp could now land a player with the potential to reach similar levels.

Football talent scout Jacek Kulig once described Baena as an "offensive allrounder" and rated his potential as 9/10. He also named former Liverpool whiz Philippe Coutinho as a similar type of player, which provides Reds supporters with an insight into his style of play.

Alex Baena's season in numbers

The versatile attacking midfielder, who predominantly plays as a number ten but can also be deployed out wide, has showcased his creative quality on a regular basis this season.

He has been able to unlock opposition defences with ease for his teammates in LaLiga with 2.4 key passes per game and seven 'big chances' created in 14 league outings.

Meanwhile, no Liverpool player has managed more than 2.4 key passes per match and no central or attacking midfielder has produced more than two per clash for the club in the Premier League this term.

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This suggests that the 22-year-old ace, who was described as a "beautiful" technician by journalist Josh Bunting, could come in as Klopp's outstanding creative talent through the middle of the pitch to tee up the likes of Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez for chances in the final third.

In fact, Baena has been putting up de Bruyne-esque numbers at the top end of the pitch so far this season in La Liga. He has averaged 0.42 assists, 5.01 shot-creating actions, and 0.29 Expected Assisted Goals per 90 in the Spanish top-flight so far - ranking in the top 5% or higher of midfielders within the division in each statistic.

Over the last 365 days, the Spain international ranks in the top 2% of his positional peers for Expected Assisted Goals (0.27), the top 5% for shot-creating action (4.46), and the top 3% for assists (0.28) per 90 in the Men's Big Five Leagues and European competitions.

Therefore, Klopp could unearth his own version of de Bruyne by securing a Liverpool deal to sign the Villarreal star ahead of their rivals, due to his outstanding creative qualities and room to improve at the age of 22.