Why Liverpool might want John McGinn
For a team reportedly not in the market for a midfielder, Liverpool seem to be getting linked with midfield reinforcements on a daily basis.
Last week, it was Florian Neuhaus. Then it was Christoph Baumgartner. Now it is John McGinn. According to The Athletic, the Villa No7 has impressed Jurgen Klopp and the Reds do hold an interest in the 26-year-old. James Pearce went on to say that a move for the Scotland international is unlikely this summer due to the £50million price tag placed on him.
The report goes on to say that Liverpool need to sell before they can add more players to their squad.
In Pearce’s article on Neuhaus, he claimed that club officials are dismissive of the idea that a midfielder is required, even though Gini Wijnaldum has now left. It is believed that Fabinho being restored to centre-midfield on a permanent basis nullifies the need for an added body in the middle third.
There’s no smoke without fire, though, surely. A midfielder must be on the agenda. But will McGinn really be on the list?
Disclaimer: Output is directly linked to how players are used within the system they're deployed in. pic.twitter.com/WWK4hooHoP
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) June 23, 2021
Full disclosure, I am a fan of the left-footed midfielder and I’ve written about him in the past. I thought he might be on our list last summer, especially if Villa failed to stay in the Premier League.
He’s like a midfield version of Andy Robertson, he just never seems to stop running. Watching him against Croatia, it felt like he was everywhere. McGinn gives off serious James Milner vibes in that regard.
The former Hibs man is also an open-play goal threat, with an expected goals per 90 average of 0.10 in the Premier League across two seasons. That average is even more impressive when you consider the fact he’s played multiple roles and positions for Dean Smith’s side. McGinn has flitted between playing as part of a two in a double pivot and playing as the more attack-minded eight.
There are two sides of his game, similar, in many ways, to Wijnaldum at Liverpool. He’ll ignore his attacking tendencies to assist the team defensively when required. However, when he’s required to attack, he’s a threat.
McGinn is in the top 20th percentile for shot-creating actions and completed dribbles, per FBRef. He is press resistant and progressive. His pressing numbers don’t look great, but, as flagged in the Neuhaus article, this particular metric is closely tied to the system a player is deployed in. Just because he’s not posting Thiago numbers doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the capacity to do it.
Another positive is his availability. He’s only missed 15 games for Villa across three seasons and that was the result of a fractured ankle. McGinn appeared in 37 games during the 2020/21 Premier League campaign and 28 the year before.
He ticks a number of boxes, yet it is still unlikely Liverpool make a move for him.
The one-time Manchester United transfer target is 27 in October. This is by no means ‘old’, but the Reds do tend to target younger players with the potential to improve. The younger they are, the easier it is to spread the risk. The club can give them 6-12 months to get up to speed with the tactical demands. If McGinn needs a year, he’ll be pushing 28.
You’re looking at three years before you need to look at finding players who could succeed him. Liverpool usually plan for the long-term. This would be a short-term signing.
Then there’s the price. His current deal expires in 2025, Villa aren’t in dire need of money and Jack Grealish is supposedly off to Manchester City this summer. It’d take a huge bid to pry McGinn away from Villa Park, believed to be in the region of £50million.
Unlikely, but his salary (believed to be just £25,000-per-week) and his Premier League experience might tempt the Reds into making such a signing.