Following the departure of Sadio Mane in the summer of 2022, Luis Diaz was expected to be the heir to the throne in Liverpool’s attack.
After completing his £35 million move from FC Porto, the Colombian had a storming first six months at the club as the Reds pushed for trophies in all four competitions.
The winger became an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s side by the end of the 2021/22 season, pushing Sadio Mane into a more central position.
Diaz was a standout performer in all three cup finals that season but has since struggled to push on due to a run of unfortunate injuries and serious issues off-pitch.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at what has gone wrong for Diaz on the pitch and how unlocking the best of Luis Diaz could still be achieved.
Analysing Diaz’s Attacking Output:
Despite his undeniable work rate and desire to win, Diaz’s direct goal involvement has often been a major point of questioning within his game.
When Liverpool signed Diaz from Porto in the 21/22 season, he already had 16 goals and six assists to his name for the Portuguese side.
Despite the step-up to the Premier League, Diaz still put together his most prolific period in front of goal in a Liverpool shirt to date.
The Colombian managed six goals and five assists and averaged a goal contribution every 137.5 minutes of Premier League football between January and May 2022.
That rate increased to a Premier League goal contribution every 166 minutes in the following season, although it is important to note that Diaz had two knee surgeries that season.
In the 2023/24 season, his rate doubled from that in 2022, with it currently standing at a goal contribution every 274 minutes in the Premier League.
Below you can see Luis Diaz’s direct goal contribution total this season, compared to the other four senior attackers at Klopp’s disposal.
Impact of Injuries and Off-Pitch Issues:
How can Diaz improve on this?
A key factor behind Diaz’s consistent goal threat in the past has been his direct style of play, pinning the opposition defence in their own penalty area.
In 2021-22, Diaz was averaging 4.98 progressive carries and 2.91 carries into the penalty area per 90 minutes.
However, this season Diaz is averaging just 3.13 progressive carries and just 1.07 carries into the penalty area per 90 minutes.
This could certainly be down to a lack of confidence, but it’s definitely playing a huge part in Diaz’s overall game.
His lack of runs with the ball at his feet makes him far easier to defend against and also limits the amount of shot-creating actions from the Colombian.
In his debut season for the Reds, Diaz was averaging 5.64 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes but has averaged just 4.45 in the Premier League so far this season.
In terms of creating chances and goals for his teammates, Diaz’s numbers have also significantly fallen.
In 2021-22, Diaz was averaging 2.07 passes into the penalty area and 1.88 key passes per 90.
However, this season Diaz is averaging just 1.24 passes into the penalty area and just 1.65 key passes per 90 minutes.
Overall, Diaz has seemingly lost the pure directness of his game that caused so many opposition defences problems.
Too often recently, you see Diaz running across the edge of the box looking to create space for a shot.
If Diaz can get back to making vertical movements both with or without the ball, then his direct goal contributions will increase significantly.
Even at the start of this season, Diaz’s goal against Chelsea on the opening day of the season was from him making a hugely positive vertical run between the Chelsea defence.
However, I believe that most of these issues stem from a lack of confidence for the Colombian at the moment, which is completely understandable due to the significant issues he’s had to deal with off-pitch.
I still remain confident that the best of Luis Diaz is yet to come at Liverpool.