Liverpool’s success last season surprised many people, but the squad requires improvement in order to remain competitive next season. The club’s domestic rivals will undoubtedly be active in this transfer window, and the added demands of Champions League football requires more squad depth.
To the club’s credit, they are attempting to doing their business early, allowing new arrivals time to adapt to the club. Rickie Lambert and Emre Can have already agreed to move to Anfield, and Liverpool are trying to bring in a new left-back as well. They are also chasing an attacking midfielder who can rotate with Phillipe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, and it seemed that Adam Lallana, himelf apparently eager to join Liverpool, would be that player.
However, Liverpool have been unable to agree a fee with Southampton for the England international, and they are now being linked with Lazio’s Antonio Candreva.
Candreva is a key part of Italy’s World Cup squad in Brazil. He’s an attacking midfielder, who can also play in a deeper role, and only three players completed more key passes in Serie A last season. In theory, the 27-year-old seems like an ideal fit for Liverpool’s stylish system, but how does he compare to the players he would be competing with for a first-team place?
Compared to Coutinho, Sterling, and fellow Liverpool target Lallana, Candreva doesn’t come out on top in terms of goals scored, assists, chances created or pass completion. However, he is second in all categories but assists, where Coutinho leads the way. It’s important to note that Coutinho and Sterling’s assist stats are boosted by the presence of two excellent strikers in Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
He also comes second in terms of successful take-ons with 2.78 per 90 minutes. Unsurprisingly, Raheem Sterling completes the most take-ons, with 3.73 per 90. The Italian does win significantly more duels than the other three, though, the nearest to his 60% sussess rate is Sterling with 53%.
He generally played in the centre for Lazio last year, but lined up on the right side of Italy’s midfield in their World Cup victory over England. His movement and link-up play with Matteo Darmian tormented Leighton Baines throughout, and he supplied the cross for Mario Balotelli’s headed winner.
Liverpool have a very fluid attack, and that flexibility would be well suited to the football that Brendan Rodgers’ has introduced at Anfield. Both Suarez and Sturridge have a tendency to drift, and that requires intelligent midfielders – like Candreva – who can adapt their own positions accordingly.
Candreva also scored 12 goals in Serie A last season, more than any other midfielder, although six of these were penalties. In an attacking sense, his stats are very impressive, and his speed and stamina would also be well suited to the Premier League.
With any deal for Lallana set to cost around £30 million, and possibly even more, Liverpool would be better served by going for Candreva instead. He might be a year older than the Southampton player, but his stats are more impressive, he would suit Liverpool’s style, and he’d represent much better value.