Liverpool are looking to add fresh legs to their midfield department this summer. With the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and James Milner now over 30 years-old, a new addition is very much on Jurgen Klopp’s agenda.
Aurelien Tchouameni has been reported as the club’s primary target, although it remains to be seen as to whether the Reds will land his signature. Real Madrid are also chasing the AS Monaco talent – Spanish media claiming a £60m bid has been lodged – and after losing out on Kylian Mbappe last week, they are determined to avoid defeat in yet another transfer battle.
The French midfielder would have been a fine capture for Liverpool. He has proved to be a well-rounded performer in the middle of the park in recent times, seemingly possessing few weaknesses while showcasing an ability to thrive on the defensive side of the game.
Tchouameni has ranked inside the top three players across Europe’s top five leagues for tackles and interceptions in each of the last two campaigns, placing joint-top last season and third this time around.
Standing around 6-foot-1, the 22 year-old is physical, athletic and despite his defensive contributions, he’s comfortable and productive when in possession of the ball.
All things considered, it is perhaps no surprise that both of this year’s Champions League finalists are fighting over his signature. If the Reds are unable to bring him to Anfield, alternative options will have to be explored, which is why the quiet links to Ibrahim Sangare appear relevant.
The Ivorian international was playing against Tchouameni in 2020, having been contracted to Toulouse in Ligue 1 before transferring to PSV Eindhoven for around £6m. Since, Sangare has continued to grow and now aged 24, he might have shown enough quality in the Eredivisie to spend his prime years of performance in the Premier League.
Much like Tchouameni, Sangare is even more of a physical presence at around 6-foot-3. He rarely suffers from injuries having missed just four matches across two seasons in Holland, and he accumulated more minutes on the pitch in the Dutch top-flight than any of his PSV teammates this term.
He’s primarily operated as part of a midfield two – much like Tchouameni – although he has gained some experience as a no.8 this season, with PSV occasionally opting for a 4-3-3 formation.
Sangare ranked in the 91st percentile among midfielders in the Eredivisie this season for pressure regains, while placing in the 98th percentile for possession-adjusted tackles and the 99th percentile for possession-adjusted interceptions.
The Reds tend to place plenty of weight on data when scouting for players, and the numbers suggest that he’s defensively active which is what Liverpool seem to want from their new midfielder.
Klopp and his recruitment team will have to appreciate the differing standards of the Premier League in comparison to the Eredivisie – which is regarded as the seventh-best division in Europe according to UEFA coefficients – but it is worth noting that he’s also played around 2,000 minutes in tougher European competitions during his time at PSV.
Sangare has a contract which is due to expire in two years which bodes well for a transfer this summer, and he seems comparable enough to Tchouameni to act as a suitable alternative if the Frenchman ends up choosing the Bernabeu.