Jurgen Klopp. What an amazing and confusing man. The man who employs the riskiest and strenuous of the tactics, Gegenpress, ironically doesn’t take a chance with his transfers. Klopp firmly believes to do his major business during the summer, but when he does enter the winter market, he makes sure to make it with a bang! Virgil Van Dijk’s arrival for £75 million and Coutinho’s departure at an astronomical price of £142 million made headlines for months, even after deals were concluded. He made sure not to break the tradition by bringing in Luis Diaz for a reported price of £50 million after all add-ons. But who is Luis Diaz? Why did the sly German manager sign him? Let’s find out as we scroll further.
2021 Copa America was a tournament to remember. While the talking point was the legendary Lionel Messi finally lifting his first international trophy, it also was memorable for many players to finally get the recognition they deserved. Rodrigo de Paul and Cristian Romero earned themselves their moves to Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspurs respectively. Emiliano Martinez earned some much-needed reputation to prolong his career. One among those beneficiaries is Luis Diaz. Diaz had a wonderful Copa America campaign netting four goals and becoming the joint top-scorer along with Leo Messi. It was this campaign that brought him the interest of the heavy-weight clubs. Everton was interested in the player and offered Portuguese Champions FC Porto a deal consisting of £20 million and James Rodriguez. It was accepted and all, but at the final moments James Rodriguez opted out and choose to join Al-Rayyan. Everton’s loss is Liverpool’s gain. The Reds sent their scouts to monitor Diaz and he impressed them with an astonishing tally of 14 goals and 4 assists from 18 league appearances. This was enough to convince Jurgen Klopp to splash out money for the Colombian.
Klopp brought in Luis Diaz to provide immediate cover and future replacement for Sadio Mane. While Mane is far better than average wingers, his form and pace have been dropping slightly from the past two seasons. The Senegalese can still continue at this level for the next 2 to 3 seasons, but what after that? With the current average value for a winger being around 60-80 million pounds, we can expect it to be a costly affair if Liverpool were to replace Mane then, and we all know how Klopp hates losses.
Luis Diaz is a somewhat crossbreed between a traditional winger and a modern/inverted winger. Let’s have a look at them.
The above image is of the third-place play-off match between Colombia and Peru. Here we can see Luis Diaz keeping a distance from the box. He is trying to run till the by-line, attempting to beat the man near the by-line, and then cross into the box. A stereotypical winger move. He also makes sure to drag his mark to disrupt the defensive line. To avoid any chances of turnover he hugs the side-line, in case the defender wins the ball it goes outside and gives the defence time to retrace back. Luis Diaz has the speed and resistance, which are the essentials for a winger. That isn’t all yet. Let’s look at another photograph.
In this scenario, Diaz cut in right after receiving the ball, played a one-two to get past the defender, and then composedly made a shot at goal. This play shows Luis Diaz has the credentials of a good inverted winger. Diaz can accelerate at an alarming rate and cut in from the left flank. He has a good eye for goal and always tries to convert such chances into 1 on 1 with the keeper to win them. Even though he is an excellent dribbler, with 2.91 successful dribbles per game, Diaz never shies away from playing one-twos displaying a good work ethic and selflessness, along with excellent individual ability.
Apart from these common traits, Diaz has unending stamina and unrelenting resistance towards physical attacks. These two qualities can help him survive in the dangerous Premier League. Diaz is also an excellent finisher, with a conversion rate of 27%, which ranks him among the top 25 finishers of this season yet. He is also an established passer, completing 83% of his passes in the area filled with opposition defence. With a height of just 1.8m, Diaz has found a way to deal with larger opponents and beat them easily with pace. He also has good control over the ball and rarely losses it. Diaz always opts for a pass in a risky situation, emphasizing that maintaining a team advantage is better than going for individual glory.
He really does add a new, unexplored dimension to Liverpool’s attack and can give Sadio Mane a reason or two to worry about his future. These reasons were more than enough for Liverpool to open their locker. Luis Diaz needed a bigger platform to gain more experience and success, and what better than the good, old Premier League. Also, who can refuse Klopp’s bear-hugs? The onus is now on Klopp as the German has to work around his latest signing to improve his efficiency and consistency so that he can launch give the ‘Egyptian King’ Mo Salah, a partner he deserves. No Offense Sadio Mane. All this banter around Diaz raises a teeny bit of concern, “Is LD gonna be the next name in the list of expensive flops, or is he here to rule the Anfield?” Only time will tell the answer.