Liverpool should repeat $46m masterstroke as new Virgil van Dijk teammate can replace Fabinho
With Liverpool in the market for more than just one midfielder this summer, and the club’s budget as always limited, Jürgen Klopp’s recruitment team will need to box clever in order to find the right players for the squad.
One midfield area where Liverpool has lacked investment for years is in the holding midfield position which has become a rusty engine with only Fabinho capable of effectively playing in the position.
Liverpool’s reliance on the Brazilian has led to his downfall and this season has shown that all the years playing as the club’s sole holding midfield option have taken a toll on his body.
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This summer, Liverpool will need to mitigate that problem by signing a player who can come in and take the load off of Fabinho’s shoulders, and there could be an ideal candidate playing in the Eredivisie who recently made his debut for the Dutch national team.
Twenty-three-year-old Mats Wieffer made his debut for the Netherlands lining up alongside Virgil van Dyke during the most recent international break after enjoying a break-out season with Feyenoord.
Wieffer moved to the current Eredivisie league leaders during the summer after an impressive campaign with Excelsior, and he has quickly established himself as one of the best midfielders in the league.
Strong and tall just like Fabinho, Wieffer is pressure resistant, reads the game impeccably, and provides control in the middle of the park with the ability to dictate games.
Crucially, he has been both an asset defensively and going forward as well for Feyenoord.
Defensively, no midfielder has averaged more interceptions (7.8 per 90) nor more possession-adjusted interceptions (11.44) than Wieffer in the Eredivisie this season as per Wyscout. With his spindly long legs, he is excellent at cutting out passes and breaking up opposition attacks, sometimes eerily similar to Fabinho in his prime.
At the same time though, Wieffer is also comfortable in possession and he likes to progress the ball, too. Not only that but he also makes goal contributions in the final third.
Among his positional peers in the Eredivisie, Wieffer ranks in the 94th percentile for progressive passes per 90 (8.05) as per FBref and in the 93rd percentile for passes attempted (70.06 per 90). While he also makes 3.05 shot-creating actions per 90 and has contributed with three goals and six assists in all competitions in 31 games for his club side.
Recently, he scored a decisive goal against AS Roma in the Europa League which has given Feyenoord a major advantage heading into the second leg of the club’s quarter-final tie next week.
Only 23 years old, Feyenoord signed him for just $638k (£513k/€575k), and the club is likely expecting to make a huge profit on him. However, considering Feyenoord’s record sale to date was Luis Sinisterra for only $27m (£22m/€25m) to Leeds United, Wieffer could still be a bargain option for Liverpool.
Recently, the Reds have obviously found value in the Eredivisie through the signing of Cody Gakpo — one that already is beginning to look like a masterstroke for an initial $46m (£37m/€41m) when most people were crying out for a midfielder being of greater importance — and have a coach in Pep Linders who regularly monitors the division since he is Dutch himself.
Wieffer is the clear stand-out midfielder in the league this season and in many ways, he is the kind of proactive defensive midfielder Liverpool has been crying out for.
He alone won’t solve all of the club’s midfield issues, but he could be the bargain option alongside perhaps a few more established players that completes the final jigsaw at Anfield this season.
At any rate, Liverpool should keep a close eye on his progress.
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