Sky Sports’ pundit Micah Richards has publicly encouraged Liverpool to look into signing Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse following the Saints’ relegation from the Premier League.
However, I strongly believe that the 28-year-old is NOT the answer to Liverpool’s current midfield issues and the club should look elsewhere for reinforcements.
It’s not just the eye test that makes me think this, I’ve also crunched the numbers behind the Saints midfielder compared to other Liverpool transfer targets for the upcoming transfer window.
First of all, it’s key to recognise what style of midfielder Jurgen Klopp needs in his current system which involves a box midfield of two narrow sixes and two wider eights.
Ward-Prowse certainly doesn’t have the physicality to needed to play alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold as a six and the stats prove that he doesn’t have the positive progression needed in the eight roles to suit the system.
FBRef looks at the numbers of a player compared to the rest of the league’s talent in their specific postion, so in this case these stats are Ward-Prowse’s compared to the rest of the eight’s in the Premier League.
In this article we are going to compare James Ward-Prowse, Alexis Mac Allister and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who many have suggested is in desperate need of replacing next season.
Passes attempted per 90- 58.61 (2nd)
Pass completion %- 78.8% (3rd)
Progressive passes per 90- 5.31 (3rd)
Progressive carries per 90- 0.51 (3rd)
Successful take-ons per 90- 0.16 (3rd)
Touches in opposition penalty area per 90- 0.75 (3rd)
Alexis Mac Allister:
Passes attempted per 90- 56.97 (3rd)
Pass completion %- 86.1% (1st)
Progressive passes per 90- 5.51 (2nd)
Progressive carries per 90- 2.02 (1st)
Successful take-ons per 90- 1.31 (1st)
Touches in opposition penalty area per 90- 2.08 (1st)
Passes attempted per 90- 72.41 (1st)
Pass completion %- 84% (2nd)
Progressive passes per 90- 8.46 (1st)
Progressive carries per 90- 1.43 (2nd)
Successful take-one per 90- 0.34 (2nd)
Touches in opposition penalty area per 90- 1.70 (2nd)
The stats ultimately show that James Ward-Prowse is nowhere near progressive enough to fit into Jurgen Klopp’s new system, which expects the midfielders to get closer to the front and contribute more in the final third.
A fantastic example of this is the performances of Curtis Jones in the past month or so, linking up with the front three brilliantly and notching goals and assists.
Alexis Mac Allister seems to be the real deal in terms of the current names linked with a move to Anfield and I think he would fit the new system brilliantly.
The price tag alongside Ward-Prowse has been labelled at around £50million and reports suggest that the Reds are close to securing a £60million move for Mac Allister.
For the sake of an extra £10million, Liverpool are getting a much younger, exciting and progressive midfielder who was a crucial part in Argentina’s World Cup triumph- whilst Ward-Prowse can’t even break into the England setup ahead of the likes of Jordan Henderson and Conor Gallagher.