Liverpool’s Midfield Evolution…Not Finished Yet
Despite the signings of Dominik Szobozslai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo in the summer, Liverpool are still expected to sign at least one more midfielder in the near future.
Fluminense midfielder, Andre, has been labelled as the favourite to make the switch to Anfield over recent months, but there are definitely other options available to the Reds.
Despite the Reds being previously linked to the likes of Joao Palhinha, Manu Kone and Kephren Thuram, none of them are seen as the solid and trusted holding player that Klopp has been looking for.
It has become clear to see that Wataru Endo was signed as a rotational option in Klopp’s squad, whereas Alexis Mac Allister surely can’t be the long-term solution in that role.
That leads me to Youssouf Fofana, who I believe could be a potential solution to the problem…
Who is Youssouf Fofana?
Youssouf Fofana is a 24-year-old defensive midfielder, currently playing for AS Monaco in Ligue 1.
Despite still being relatively young, the midfielder has 150 appearances for AS Monaco as well as representing the France National Team on 12 occasions.
That includes a full 90 minutes in France’s World Cup Semi-Final victory over Morocco in December 2022.
So far this season, Fofana has played every single minute across Monaco’s ten Ligue 1 games this season- even captaining the side on one occasion.
Prior to his move to Monaco in 2020, the Frenchman also made 41 senior appearances for Strasbourg.
Across those senior appearances, Fofana has scored seven goals and also notched 14 assists across all competitions.
However, that isn’t where Fofana’s strong points are with the midfielder being an absolute defensive machine in front of the back line.
How would Fofana fit in at Liverpool?
As mentioned before, Fofana would be a brilliant option to have at the base of the midfield which would allow Alexis Mac Allister to push forward and show more of his creative ability that earned him the move to Merseyside.
Fofana is usually deployed at the base of the midfield as part of a deep-lying double pivot, often featuring alongside former Chelsea and Juventus midfielder Denis Zakaria.
This would perfectly fit Jurgen Klopp’s current tactical system, which sees Trent Alexander-Arnold move inside from full-back to support the midfield alongside Mac Allister.
Having Fofana and Alexander-Arnold alongside each other could be the perfect combination of physical presence and magnificent footballing ability.
Furthermore, with Liverpool set to reinforce their defensive line next summer, Fofana could be a perfect option for a January move alongside the likes of Andre.
Transfermarkt currently value the 24-year-old at roughly £24million, with a January move likely to cost closer to £30million.
Crunching the numbers:
Fofana’s defensive ability is clear to see both with the eye test but also the numbers to back it up.
Below are some defensive stats from both Alexis Mac Allister and Youssouf Fofana from the past year:
Alexis Mac Allister:
- Tackles per 90- 1.95 (2nd)
- Challenges lost per 90- 1.11 (1st)
- Blocks per 90- 1.24 (2nd)
- Interceptions per 90- 0.64 (2nd)
- Clearances per 90- 0.30 (2nd)
- Ball recoveries per 90- 5.92 (2nd)
- Tackles per 90- 2.25 (1st)
- Challenges lost per 90- 1.12 (2nd)
- Blocks per 90- 1.58 (1st)
- Interceptions per 90- 1.66 (1st)
- Clearances per 90- 0.91 (1st)
- Ball recoveries per 90- 8.61 (1st)
As you can see, Fofana would offer a serious defensive improvement at the base of the midfield compared to Mac Allister.
Now we’re going to take a look at their ball-playing statistics from the past year:
Alexis Mac Allister:
- Passes completed per 90- 53.33 (1st)
- Pass completion %- 86.4% (1st)
- Assists per 90- 0.10 (2nd)
- Key passes per 90- 1.51 (1st)
- Passes into final third per 90- 5.01 (2nd)
- Progressive passes per 90- 6.53 (2nd)
- Passes completed per 90- 46.14 (2nd)
- Pass completion %- 82.5% (2nd)
- Assists per 90- 0.11 (1st)
- Key passes per 90- 0.99 (2nd)
- Passes into final third per 90- 5.91 (1st)
- Progressive passes per 90- 7.60 (1st)
By comparing the two players’ passing statistics, it’s clear to see that Fofana is more than capable of progressing play from the base of the midfield too.
His statistics become even more impressive when you consider how poor Monaco have been over recent years, especially in terms of attacking output.
Bringing in a player like Fofana would allow Mac Allister to move back up the pitch and provide some real creative excellence at the other end of the pitch.