The Wataru Endo Deal Takes the Summer Window To 6 out of 10
I recall playing Championship manager about 25 years ago, where I would spend just as long looking at who I could sign, rather than play actual games of football. My teenage years (and into adulthood) had me able to name and describe certain continental footballers, due purely to my hours of participation in the addictive football management game. At some point, I ended my association with such games, as maturity brought about the need to do more than merely sit in front of a screen, scrolling through players of interest. In this summer of change at Liverpool FC, I feel like this is the kind of undertaking that has been carried out by our short-term Sporting Director, Jörg Schmadtke. Though we have had some incredible signings walk through the door (so far), there have been dozens of targets reported on, with probably dozens more that were not even mentioned. With links coming and going in rapid succession, it now appears that the first of two holding midfielders is finally due to arrive, with strong links indicating a deal for Wataru Endo is close.
So I took the same look at Wataru Endo as I did for Kone at start of June…and they are v.similar except Endo has no injury history.
Same distance 11.0km p90
Same intensive Runs (70)
Same sprints (16)
13.5 duels won p90 (!!)
Slightly lower top speed 32.2kmh
Much better aerially https://t.co/TBk07nh2er
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) August 16, 2023
Anfield Index’s very own data man has detailed some very encouraging stats (see above) on the incredible VfB Stuttgart captain. Though I had some mild knowledge of the Japan skipper, I was gratefully surprised to better understand what sort of player we were looking at signing. Dan goes on to call the 5ft 10inch player a piano carrier, which is to say that he would be that central figure that is tasked with most of the heavy lifting. As one of two new holding midfielders, I am sold on the recruitment of a vastly experienced, hungry, hardworking, and impressive player. If you look at the stats below, it shows a three-year period of him excelling in many of the areas where the reds are too often found wanting, certainly last season. These are the attributes of a workhorse I want in and around all our more creative assets. Anyone who has worried about this £15m capture would be wrong, as he is someone we need and adds exactly what is required to that limited middle group.
What Other Plus Points Does This New Signing Bring…?
Leadership within the squad has been noted as something that may have decreased, after the departures of our former skipper and vice-captain. Jordan Henderson and James Milner were both vastly experienced players who acted as Klopp’s lieutenants on and off the pitch. In this transitional period where both raw and new players are now emerging, it certainly appears to be a smart move to bring in someone of Wataru Endo’s stature. His nonstop willingness to work will be an infectious tool to help others as they mature in this new environment. Stefan Bajčetić is the long-term future for a starting midfield role, therefore, the pressure on this young Spaniard’s shoulders can be lessened with a seasoned operator, such as the former Shonan Bellmare prodigy. It does seem like this new player will be replacing much of the role that James Milner undertook, with a versatility to play in both midfield and defense.
Wataru Endó vs Bundesliga midfielders since the start of the 2020/21 season:
◉ Most possession won in defensive ⅓ (254)
◉ Most aerial duels won (219)
◉ Most clearances (175)
◉ Most headed clearances (105)
◎ Second-most touches (6511)
◎ Second-most passes completed (3940)… pic.twitter.com/Dtc2TUGF5R
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 16, 2023
What Gets Our Window To 7, 8, and 9 out of 10…?
An established and long-term holding midfielder is a must, inclusive of the soon to be announced 50-cap Japan captain. The failure to land either Moisés Caicedo or Roméo Lavia should not stop the reds from targeting either Cheick Doucouré, Florentino Luís, or Manu Koné, with any of these three offering the correct level of ability (and age) to immerse themselves within this new look Liverpool midfield. That would get our window to a 7 out of 10.
In order to push the window to an 8 out of 10, the recruitment of a specialist left-sided centre back would give better coverage when the shape shifts to a back three. The names of such players are quickly dwindling, which means the back three may well be used less and less.
A 9 out of 10 transfer window would see an agreement on André Trindade, who would eventually arrive in the January window from his current Brazilian employers, Fluminense. With the Asia Cup and African Cup of Nations coming in the new year, the arrival of this 22-year-old midfielder could ease the burden created by losing certain players to those competitions. The magical 10 out of 10 window would be attained only if a further central defender was signed (on top of everything else), one who could negate the fears created by erratic and worrying performances of both Joe Gomez and Joël Matip.
vs Bournemouth back to 433 or same personnel in 4231. I would even start these same players if it was the 3box3 which Klopp seems keen to continue.
Gakpo struggled at 8, Jota was poor vs Chelsea, unleash Darwin. Curtis is injured, Endo is experienced so throw him in. pic.twitter.com/GrbewVm7lf
— Red (@TaintlessRed) August 17, 2023
I believe we will land on a 7 or 8 out of ten, with either the left centre back or January signing shelved until a later date. The lack of coordination in the recruitment team’s work means there is now not enough time to get the players in to make this window perfect. What we do now have is a holding midfielder that can protect those behind him and allow those ahead of him to prosper. It was not what we expected and I doubt it is what anyone truly wanted. Still, the ability to field an actual defensive midfielder is now a real thing, which is not the worst outcome, following the recent failures in this toxic market.