Last week the Serbian website Mozzart Sport linked Liverpool with a move for VFB Stuggart winger Filip Kostic.
The 23 year old is only in his second season playing for the Bundesliga side but has been steadily improving ever since joining them. Signed from FC Groningen, who ply their trade in the Eredivisie, the winger cost the German side 7 million Euros when he signed for them in the summer of 2014. Prior to his move he’d helped fire Groningen to an impressive 7th place finish, which meant the Dutch club were into the Europa League qualifiers. Filip played a huge role that season with 11 goals and 7 assists.
It’d be easy to watch Filip play and class him as an old school stereotypical winger. When played on the left hand side he likes to get chalk on his boots, he uses his pace to get by a full-back and he possesses a devastating left foot when looking to put the ball into the area.
He’s got much more to his game though. He doesn’t just rely on his pace to beat a man. He’s switched on enough to manipulate the space and read the game. He doesn’t just hit a blind ball into the box like many wingers do. He has an end product and it’s this that makes him stand out.
“Since the turn of the year (2015), Kostic has created 9 clear cut chances, only bettered by arguably the best player in the Bundesliga this season, (now at Manchester City) Kevin de Bruyne (10), with the latter making two more appearances in that time. When excluding substitute appearances this season, Kostic has also averaged the most accurate crosses in Bundesliga, impressively picking out a teammate close to 2.7 times per match.”
We have a striker that feeds off crosses in Christian Benteke. Not just lofted balls into the box, Filip actually weights his passes and picks them out accurately.
When used on the right hand side he’s the type of inside forward we’ve all become familiar with over the past few seasons. He drifts inside, ghosting past players and drawing the left-back onto their weaker side. Full-backs don’t want to get too close to him because with his pace he’ll breeze past them and they don’t want to give him too much time on the ball as he’ll pick out one of the curling crosses we’re all becoming familiar with.
He’s currently ranked 6th in the entirety of the Bundelsiga for key passes per 90 with 2.6, this whilst playing for a struggling Stuttgart side. The talent is there.
We’ve seen how Premier League sides have struggled with Riyad Mahrez this season. His pace and direct nature makes him a handful for defenders and Kostic would offer the same threat. He’s not just compared to Bayern’s Arjen Robben because of his style but because he too played for Groningen before the big moves followed.
Not only is he good offensively he also puts in a shift defensively. Liverpool fans love players that can tackle and Filip averages 1.7 tackles per 90 over the past two and a half seasons, coupled with 1.6 interceptions per 90. The abundance of pace he has aids him defensively when he’s tracking back to cover his full-back.
His season at Stuttgart helped him mature as a player.
“Before I came to Stuttgart, I thought I wasn’t able to contribute defensively, now it’s different, it’s important to have the ability to play offensively and defensively. By doing so (Huub) Stevens (previous Stuttgart manager) has helped me to become a more complete player”.
Due to his height it’s obvious to assume he’d be weak in the air; he is. This is only a weakness if you’re looking to play long balls to him which I can’t see Liverpool doing. If you hide his weakness it no longer becomes a problem.
The one I do have a concern about is his passing. His pass success rate during his time at Stuttgart is 62%. Composure on the ball in the Premier League is a necessity and with Klopp wanting to dominate the ball it’s something the Serbian winger would need to work on if he were to make the move to Liverpool.
If Liverpool were keen on the player then if he was to cost less than £15 million I think it could be a good deal if he manages to adapt to the Premier League. He could be a cheaper alternative to Leroy Sane. His pace adds another dimension to the attack, something we’re severely lacking. He’s left footed which would add some balance to the Liverpool offensive options and he’s at a good age to make a move. He’d be more ready for the Premier League now than he would be had we signed him from Groningen. The experience in Germany could be invaluable. The last time Liverpool signed a player that had played for Groningen it didn’t turn out too bad did it?