Ahead of a Champions League campaign next season, Liverpool have been busy sounding out potential targets to buttress their already formidable forward line.
Two of the names most prominently etched across the back pages in links with Liverpool have been that of Barcelona livewire Alexis Sanchez and Southampton playmaker Adam Lallana.
Both are undeniable talents, with their own strengths and deficiencies. But who would slot most seamlessly into the Merseysider’s tightly knit outfit?
Interestingly enough, both Lallana and Sanchez currently ply their trades at clubs that adopt a high-pressing system – in a similar vein to Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.
Employing such a system requires the attacking contingent to defend from the front, as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho achieved to great effect last season – epitomised by The Reds’ two encounters with Tottenham, where they stifled the North Londoners with their pack mentality.
Lallana clearly executed more successful tackles than the Chilean, yet he also made four more appearances. While Sanchez visibly attempted less tackles – which might imply a lack of tenacity – it’s important to note that Barcelona boasted 61% of the possession on average, as opposed to Southampton’s 55%. As such, the tackle success rate represents the most salient statistic, which Sanchez prevails in.
In saying that, with 37 interceptions to Sanchez’s 14, the England international is streets ahead of the Santiago native with regards to reading the game and anticipating passes.
In terms of aerial duels, both players were predictably ineffective. Sanchez won only 21 of his 74 (28% success rate) aerial battles last season, while Lallana fared even worse, triumphing in only 15 out of 56 (27% success rate).
Where Sanchez really excels is his knack for finding the back of the net.
With 19 goals in 34 appearances for Barcelona last term, it beggars belief that, according to widespread reports, Sanchez is deemed surplus to requirements by the newly installed boss Luis Enrique. Compare this to Lallana’s respectable but inferior nine goals in 38 appearances.
Of course, with the myriad of world-class midfielders supplying Sanchez at the Nou Camp, you’d expect him to register more in the goal tally.
But if you look at his shot conversion rate (an incredible 31.1%) alongside Lallana’s (a more middle-of-the-road 18%), it’s clear that Sanchez is a more natural finisher.
To Lallana’s credit, he manufactured more chances (68) for his teammates than Sanchez (47), yet recorded half as many assists (5 compared to 10).
All things considered, Sanchez would be the better acquisition.
Despite offering less on the defensive front, the 25-year-old could operate in a multitude of positions for Liverpool, providing cover on the wings and pushing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge for a starting berth up front.