The Reds could sign a better player than Romeo Lavia this summer.
- Liverpool’s pursuit of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia has seemingly failed, leaving them in need of a new defensive midfielder.
- As such, the Reds could turn to a different Premier League star, one valued at around £52m.
- They made more tackles than any other player in the top-flight last season.
Liverpool need to act swiftly to solve their midfield conundrum, with the Anfield side reportedly set to miss out on their two biggest targets of late in Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, both to Chelsea.
After signing Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboslai earlier this summer, Jurgen Klopp looked to have commenced a much-needed rebuild effectively, but the sales of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to Saudi Arabian clubs have left the Reds light on their feet.
The need for a new defensive midfielder is paramount, and Liverpool must now consider revisiting interest in Fulham star Joao Palhinha, who excelled in the Premier League last season.
Are Liverpool signing a new midfielder?
Liverpool and West Ham United have held an interest in Palhinha this summer, with the latter now ostensibly ruled out after completing the transfer of Edson Alvarez from Ajax for roughly £35m.
Fulham believe that the Portuguese midfielder, who was sensational last season in his maiden season in England, should command a fee of at least €60m (£52m), and Liverpool must quickly decide whether to meet the Cottagers’ terms.
How good is Joao Palhinha?
One thing’s for certain, Palhinha offers something Liverpool do not have in midfield.
Since signing for Fulham from Sporting Lisbon for £20m last summer, the 28-year-old has cemented himself as one of the toughest-tackling, most indefatigable midfielders on English soil, having completed 40 matches for Marco Silva’s side across all competitions, scoring four goals, and being heralded as a “tackling machine” by teammate Harrison Reed.
Indeed, no other player made more than his 147 tackles in the entire Premier League last season. Caicedo, for context, happened to be second in the charts but only with 100.
The 21-cap Portugal star recorded an average Sofascore rating of 7.00 in the Premier League, completing 83% of his passes, winning 59% of his duels and making an incredible 4.2 tackles per game.
For reference, Lavia forged 2.1 tackles per match while the aforementioned Caicedo, who is widely regarded as one of the most prodigious midfield talents in Europe, averaged 2.7 per outing.
As per FBref, Palhinha even ranks among the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for tackles, the top 11% for clearances and the top 8% for aerials won per 90, illustrating the command he has on his midfield; a true general in the centre, the titan is a wrecking ball and exactly what Liverpool need.
He would bring instantaneous results, and while Lavia is unquestionably one of the most precocious talents in English football, putting the weight of Liverpool’s expectations and goals entirely on his shoulders at just 19-years-old is a heavy burden to shoulder.
Palhinha is robust, tenacious, experienced in the thick of intense action, and he could well provide Klopp with exactly what he craves to rectify the wrongs at Anfield, with Liverpool preparing for a Europa League campaign that serves as a constant reminder of the woes of last season.
Lavia is a tremendous teenager, and already ranks among the top 4% of midfielders for blocks per 90 – highlighting his energy and accuracy in the tackle – and there’s no telling how formidable he will become over the next several years.
But Palhinha is established; he is “Casemiro-esque” – as has been claimed by journalist Zach Lowy, and Klopp must now make his move and put an end to the malaise and trepidation that Liverpool is embroiled in at present.