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Liverpool have had a habit of signing players that people wouldn’t expect, will the Reds spring another surprise before Friday?

Aug 30, 2023 #Jurgen Klopp, #Liverpool

transfer window closes on Friday, will the Reds spring another surprise instead?

Liverpool want to keep hold of Mohamed Salah, but have undoubtedly done their due diligence in the transfer market and are said to be eyeing “the next Neymar”.

Liverpool have had a habit of signing players over the last year or so that people wouldn’t expect.

While Wataru Endō was clearly not first choice, nobody would have expected the Reds to sign a Bundesliga underdog veteran, although they could have signed Moisés Caicedo or Roméo Lavia.

Similarly, when Liverpool supporters called for their team to sign midfielders last season, the club decided to spend significant sums on Darwin Núñez and Cody Gakpo.

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With fans hoping Jurgen Klopp will sign a new midfielder or centre-back before the transfer window closes on Friday, will the Reds spring another surprise instead?

It may be, if Football Insider is to be believed. Liverpool are among a number of Premier League clubs hoping to sign Johan Bakayoko from PSV Eindhoven, according to reports. After signing Gakpo, the Reds have a relationship they can use productively.

Maybe it has to be, because competition should evolve. Bakayoko could arguably become one of Europe’s most sought-after players in the closing days of the window, with Burnley already having two bids rejected. If Liverpool want him, they have to win the competition.

But while there is no doubting the 20-year-old’s talent, one has to question whether he is what the club require at the moment. Bakayoko is a true winger, which means he is guarded by Mohamed Salah, and the Egyptian already has a young back-up in Ben Doak.

With Al-Ittihad looking to make Salah the latest global superstar to join the Saudi league, it could be that Liverpool are keeping the talented target on their radar as a precaution against the unlikely scenario that they lose a place in the 11.

He may never have been as important to the Reds, but no one can be untouchable when the bid sums are as significant as they are.

However, it is interesting to compare Bakayoko with Salah. The former appears to be more of a full-back, which the Liverpool man appeared to be at the start of last season, but with little success.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold’s reversed full-back role seeing him move inside, attacking width needs to be provided somewhere.

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So if the PSV star isn’t exactly like Salah, who is? EuroEliteScout noted that Bakayoko’s statistical profile matches that of Neymar in 2015/16, when he followed Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez as part of arguably the first full-back to surpass Liverpool’s legendary trio.

Perhaps the Total Football Analysis verdict is more appropriate. They compared Bakayoko to both Karim Adeyemi and Bukayo Saka, a duo who have been more realistically linked with the Reds in the recent past.

While the famous names continue, so do the impressive statistics of the young Belgian team. Before we get too far into FBref’s findings, it’s important to note that his numbers are compared to the so-called “next eight” competition, which is below the second tier of the big five leagues, the Champions League and the Europa League.

This rules out any Neymar comparisons. However, the data still paints a picture of a player who has already grown out of the relatively shallow waters of the Eredivisie.

Bakayoko is in the 90th percentile or better in 28 different metrics, and ninth in the top two percent for shots on goal, passing and finishing. Klopp would probably get a warning for “hitting the attacking third”, which is also an elite skill of his.

The PSV winger was 11th in the Netherlands in winning possessions per 90 minutes in the final third of last season, averaging 1.1, rising to 1.4 in the opening weeks of 2023/24.

Bakayoko is an elite player with a blistering work rate, and for those reasons alone it’s easy to see why Liverpool would be interested, even if Salah is unlikely to go anywhere.