Why Liverpool May Have Found Andy Robertson’s Replacement

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Taking a Deeper Look at Liverpool’s left-back situation

Regardless of who will be Liverpool’s manager next season, one priority for the club this summer will be to recruit another left-back.

Andy Robertson is not getting any younger. He just turned 30-years-old last month, and he’s struggled with injuries this season. His output has also diminished significantly.

This season, Robertson has just one goal and two assists in 1696 minutes for Liverpool. This is a significant drop down from 11 goal contributions in just over 3000 minutes last season. Or 18 goal contributions in just over 4000 minutes the season before.

While Robertson’s back-up Kostas Tsimikas has done quite well from time to time this season, he cannot be regarded as a long-term successor. Tsimikas is a competent back-up, but he is not viable option for the future. He will turn 28-years-old next month, and could even be on the move this summer.

The reality is sooner or later, Liverpool will need to find Robertson’s heir. This summer might be the perfect time to do that, especially if Tsimikas is on the move.

Photo: IMAGO

Who could Liverpool be looking at?

Last week Liverpool’s scouts were in attendance to watch Club Brugge take on PAOK in the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League in Belgium.

Among the players possibly on Liverpool’s radar could have been an exciting left-back, who has 16 goal contributions this season in Maxim De Cuyper.

The 23-year-old Belgian defender is one of the most exciting prospects coming through the Jupiler Pro League at the moment.

Cuyper has predominantly been used as a left-back this season. However, he is also capable of filling in at right-back, can even play as a centre-back in a back three, and has also played further forward as a left-wing and right-winger.

Left-footed, Cuyper is also comfortable using his right-foot and his versatility makes him a really useful addition to any squad.

Why Maxim De Cuyper is the perfect fit for Liverpool

This season Cuyper has been special for Club Brugge. Among full-backs in the Jupiler Pro League no one has amassed more assists (7) than the 23-year-old.

Among his positional peers as per FBref, De Cuyper also ranks in the 97th percentile for shot-creating-actions (4.21 per 90) and for passes attempted (74.55 per 90).

He is clearly a very active player when Club Brugge are in possession, and that’s exactly what you would expect a Liverpool full-back to be.

In Klopp’s system Liverpool’s full-backs play an active role in instigating and creating chances in the final third. This is very similar in Ruben Amorim’s system as well, who is regarded as the favourite to take over at Anfield at the moment.

Taking a look at De Cuyper’s heatmap this season from Wyscout and it’s obvious he is someone who would be more than capable of taking on that role.

What is De Cuyper like as a player?

De Cuyper isn’t necessarily blessed with rapid speed in the same way Robertson was able to bomb up and down the pitch in his prime – or Conor Bradley does now for Liverpool.

However, what the Belgian does have is an abundance of energy and brilliant technical ability, combined with a great understanding and reading of the game.

Defensively, he averages 6.91 possession-adjusted interceptions per 90 as per Wyscout. He also wins 68% of his defensive duels this season which ranks him in the top three players in the league among his positional peers who have averaged at least 7 defensive duels per 90.

Offensively, De Cuyper thrives in his distribution and his ability to run into dangerous positions.

Among his positional peers De Cuyper ranks second in the league for progressive passes (10.74). He also ranks in the 92nd percentile for crosses (6.37 per 90) – although this number is a little skewed because he is the designated corner kick taker for Club Brugge and 3.37 of his crosses per 90 are from corners.

Nonetheless, first and foremost De Cuyper will look to distribute the ball into dangerous territories. In this sense he is more of a Trent Alexander-Arnold type full-back rather than a Robertson one.

But he can also be effective when he does decide to drive at his opponents. Out of his positional peers who average at least two dribbles per 90, De Cuyper has a 63.33% rate which is the 5th best in the league.

Why he makes sense this summer – especially for Amorim

De Cuyper is valued at just 8 million Euros according to Transfermarkt and has a contract that expires in 2026. His value roughly translates to around £6.8m. At that kind of price range he could be a real bargain for Liverpool.

Right now, Liverpool doesn’t necessarily need to replace Robertson immediately in the team. However, the club does need a more direct competitor, who could also become his future heir.

De Cuyper ticks both of those boxes, and he is definitely ready to make the step-up to the Premier League. The Jupiler Pro League has grown in strength over the last few years, and we’ve seen several players like Kaoru Mitoma or Simon Adingra transition really well to life in England after catching the eye in Belgium.

If Amorim is the new Liverpool manager, having someone like De Cuyper would make even more sense. In Amorim’s 3-4-3 system which turns into a 3-2-5 in the build-up, the offensive full-back role would really suit someone like De Cuyper, who has plenty of experience playing as a winger.

In that system De Cuyper could become an absolute gem, and it’s why it would not be a surprise if last week Liverpool’s scouts were keeping a close eye on his performance.

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