Liverpool’s Midfield Dilemma: Doucoure or Gravenberch?

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Liverpool’s Midfield Reinforcements: Doucoure in the Spotlight

Liverpool are expected to bolster their midfield with another signing before the transfer window closes, with Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucoure heavily linked.

The 23-year-old has been rumoured to be a major target for the Reds throughout the summer, with a defensive midfielder being a priority. Doucoure caught the eye of many Liverpool fans online after a promising performance against Arsenal on Monday night. Despite suffering a 0-1 home defeat, Doucoure was one of the standout performers for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Insider Confirmation

Fabrizio Romano confirmed just a few days ago that Liverpool are definitely interested in the midfielder and the Reds ‘rate him highly’. The reliable journalist also admitted that Crystal Palace don’t want to lose the midfielder and the situation isn’t an ‘easy one’.

Doucoure has started both of Crystal Palace’s opening Premier League games, against Sheffield United and Arsenal. The holding midfielder has operated as a double pivot alongside Jefferson Lerma in both games, with the duo performing well together already. The 23-year-old has looked very comfortable on the ball in both games, especially against a high level opponent in Arsenal on Monday.

Stats Speak Volumes

Boasting an 83% pass completion rate against Sheffield United before improving that to 86% against the Gunners, which are solid numbers for a midfielder playing in a double pivot. Doucoure also was regularly involved throughout the game with 61 touches against Arsenal, considerably more than Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz. Against Sheffield United, Doucoure registered three key passes during the game, more than every other player on the pitch except Eberechi Eze (7).

This aspect of his game would be largely important if he was to move to Anfield, due to the forward-thinking style of play utilised by Jurgen Klopp. Ability on the ball is clearly heavily valued by Klopp, especially when you look at the profile of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szobozslai who moved to Anfield earlier in the window.

Defensive Prowess

Perhaps more importantly than his ability on the ball, Doucoure is also a very good defensive option off the ball too. Doucoure made eight duels against Arsenal, five of which were ground duels which was beginning to become a major problem with Fabinho last season. The midfielder also won two aerial duels against Arsenal, which is also an area that Klopp will be looking to improve on after losing a considerable amount of height through Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Is Doucoure the Solution?

After already signing a defensive midfielder in Wataru Endo, it’s debatable whether the Reds need another specialist holding midfielder this summer. Another specialist defensive midfielder would only further limit the amount of game time available to Stefan Bajcetic. This is what Doucoure would ultimately be, with the Mali international very rarely playing in a more advanced midfield role.

Price Tag and Alternatives

Crystal Palace are expected to demand a fee of around £65million for the 23-year-old, which would be more than what the Reds paid for any of their previous midfield signings. Although his ability and potential is clear to see, I struggle to see the Reds splashing the cash on Doucoure in all honesty after the signing of Endo last week. Instead, I believe a move for Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch is much more likely before the end of the window in a cheaper deal worth around £35million. Gravenberch, as well as being a cheaper option, is also capable of playing multiple different roles in the midfield rather than just the one.

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