Analysis: Can Wataru Endo Fill Fabinho’s Boots at Liverpool

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A Surprise Move

In an unexpected twist in the transfer market, Liverpool have set their sights on VfB Stuttgart’s Wataru Endo. The 30-year-old Japanese international is poised to be the Reds’ third signing this summer, a move that has taken many by surprise, especially in the wake of the Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia episodes.

Who is Wataru Endo?

For many Premier League enthusiasts, Endo’s name might not ring a bell. However, since news of the potential transfer broke, there’s been a surge in interest about the midfielder. The key question on every Liverpool fan’s mind: Can Endo fill the void in Liverpool’s defensive midfield?

Liverpool’s quest for a defensive midfielder intensified after a staggering £40million bid from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad for Fabinho. With Fabinho being the sole recognised defensive midfield specialist, the urgency to bolster this position became paramount. Endo, unlike the young talents Liverpool has been linked with, such as Lavia and Caicedo, is a seasoned professional, bringing a wealth of experience to the table.

A Change in Strategy

Liverpool’s inability to secure Caicedo and Lavia prompted a re-evaluation of their transfer targets. With the midfield’s average age decreasing and only Thiago aged above 24, Endo’s seasoned expertise is viewed as invaluable, especially after the departures of key players like Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, and James Milner.

It’s uncommon for Liverpool to shell out a fee, believed to be around €19million, for a player in his 30s. This move is reminiscent of the acquisition of Thiago from Bayern Munich in 2020, another exception to Liverpool’s usual transfer strategy.

Endo’s Versatility

Endo’s versatility is one of his standout attributes. Capable of playing both as a central and defensive midfielder, he has occasionally stepped in as a centre-back. However, his primary role can be best described as a defensive No 8.

Endo’s dedication to his craft is well-known. His commitment is evident when, after exhaustive international duties, he heads straight to the gym upon his return. His consistency and reliability are evident in his impressive fitness records, having missed only three games in the past three seasons.

A Dream Realised

Playing in the Premier League has always been Endo’s aspiration. His performances have often been the highlight for opposition players and coaches when facing Stuttgart. The German club, while saddened by his departure, acknowledges that Endo was destined for bigger challenges.

Endo’s leadership qualities are undeniable. Having captained Stuttgart and currently wearing the armband for Japan, he brings a quiet authority to the pitch. His leadership will be crucial for Liverpool, especially after the exits of key figures like Henderson and Milner.

The Big Question

The pressing question remains: Can Endo address Liverpool’s defensive midfield concerns? While comparisons with Fabinho are inevitable, Endo’s attributes suggest a balanced approach, with a blend of possession, defence, and attack.

Liverpool’s decision to bring in Endo might raise eyebrows, especially given the sale of Fabinho for a similar amount. However, if Endo can seamlessly integrate into the squad and address the midfield concerns, this could be a masterstroke by the Reds.

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