Why Manuel Ugarte should be at the top of Liverpool's wishlist
Reports in recent days have suggested that Liverpool are set to pull out of the race for Sporting midfielder, Manuel Ugarte.
Despite the 22-year-old having a release clause of just £50million, the Reds are reportedly looking to spend their time and money elsewhere in the market.
This article will look at why Liverpool should be pushing to sign the Uruguay international, with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United heavily linked with the youngster.
Fitting the system:
In terms of fitting into Jurgen Klopp’s newly adopted system, you will struggle to find a player better suited than Manuel Ugarte.
For Sporting he plays as part of a double pivot of holding midfielders, which is the same role as he would play alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold in Klopp’s new formation.
This means he could slot straight in to Fabinho’s current role, with many supporters suggesting that the Brazilian needs to be replacing after a massively underwhelming 2022/23 campaign.
Using FBRef, we looked at Ugarte’s statistics from this season compared to other midfielders in the Primeira Liga this season, with the percentile showing the percentage of players he is better than in that department.
Statistic- Per 90- Percentile
Passes completed- 55.52- 94
Passes attempted- 60.61- 89
Pass completion %- 91.6%- 99
Short Pass completion %- 93.2%- 97
Medium Pass completion %- 95.8%- 99
Long Pass completion %- 77.6%- 93
Tackles- 4.63- 99
Tackles won- 2.64- 99
Tackles Defensive third- 1.42. 90
Tackles midfield third- 2.33- 99
Tackles attacking third- 0.88- 99
Dribblers tackled- 2.53- 99
Dribbles challenged- 4.71- 99
Interceptions- 2.18- 95
Tackles+Interceptions- 2.18- 99
These numbers prove just how solid Ugarte is both on the ball and defensively, backing up the point that he has been the best midfielder in the Portuguese league this season.
From his stats you can see he is a strong and physical presence in the middle of the field, which is definitely something that has been at an absence in Klopp’s side in the 2022/23 season.
Another major issue for the Reds this season has been the amount of times possession has been given away cheaply in dangerous positions, which had led to a huge amount of chances being created by the opposition.
Signing Ugarte would be go a huge way in fixing both of those big issues for the Reds and is also likely to only improve under the guidance of Klopp.
I believe the youngster would be a perfect replacement for Fabinho and would be a reasonably cheap option due to his £50million release clause.
His numbers are signifcantly better than Fabinho’s but it is also important to note that the Brazilian has been playing in a much harder league in a struggling team.
The only other holding midfielder that Liverpool seem to be heavily linked with is Joao Palhinha of Fulham, who would likely cost around £50million himself.
However, Palhinha is 27-years-old, which is five years older than Ugarte but crucially does have Premier League experience.
One negative of Manuel Ugarte as a player though is his lack of versatility, very rarely moving out of that deep line midfielder role.