This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
It has been a rather fantastic start to the season for Liverpool.
The Reds currently top of the Premier League by eight points, having won 11 out of their first 12 games in the division so far this campaign. After 30 years without a title, they may finally end their drought this year, even if there is still a long way to go before they can rest easy.
Jurgen Klopp has put together a strong squad to be able to challenge for the league title. In the midfield, he has Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, all of whom have played a role so far this season.
They probably don’t need to urgently add another to the mix, but Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski seems like he wouldn’t mind joining the league leaders. According to La Repubblica (via Sport Witness) he said that he would “reflect on his future” if Klopp continues to praise him, while describing contract talks as exhausting, which he is said to have done when the Merseyside club played the Italian team in Europe in September.
Valued at £36m by Transfermarkt, he would not come too cheap, and the Poland international’s signature would make little sense even if he offers a minimal amount more than the other options in the centre of the pitch going forward.
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The 25-year-old is predominantly a central midfielder, having played there nine times in all competitions this term as per WhoScored. However, having also played at left-midfield and in attacking midfield, he clearly has the versatility to cover a number of different positions.
So far this campaign in Serie A, the former Udinese man has averaged 1.3 key passes per game in the middle of the park. Of Liverpool’s regular starters in that position, only Fabinho is able to match that. Henderson, meanwhile, has just 0.7, with Wijnaldum even further behind on 0.2. In terms of dribbling, the Napoli player’s 1.2 completed per game is ahead of all three of those regular starters, albeit not by a huge amount.
In terms of his passing accuracy, only the Netherlands international has more than Zielinski’s 89.5% of those to have been regularly included at central/defensive midfield. Again, though, it is not so much better. Going backwards, on the other hand, he manages just 1.1 tackles per game, which is below all of the regular starters.
With just one assist, he could also do with being more productive. Considering he is openly talking about a move, it would be fair to say he is a little desperate, but Klopp’s apparent admiration shows that he has hope of a switch, and there is some talent there.
Going forward, he provides slightly more than the current main options at Liverpool, but compared to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has four goals this term in all competitions and three dribbles per match in the league, he is still lacking.
After the England international scored for the Three Lions against Montenegro, it must surely convince the former Borussia Dortmund boss to ignore Zielinski’s come-and-get-me plea.