By Hani Na’eem – @hani_eem
After Liverpool’s summer of smart recruitment, Jurgen Klopp is seemingly happy with his squad and is unlikely to go into the current transfer market with the intent of signing more players. The reasonable thing to say is “why shouldn’t he be happy?”
The Reds have looked the part in the league this season and are still on top of the table – temporarily seven points ahead of Manchester City after the win at Brighton.
However, as ever with things during transfer windows, speculation has intensified about whether Liverpool should be targeting to bring players in. Calls for defensive backup have particularly been prevalent recently with a number of senior centre backs on the sideline for Klopp’s team.
Fans have also expressed their wish to see an attacking player sign for Liverpool this month, with fears over a possible disruptive injury to one of the key front men.
With Liverpool unlikely to do any business during the current market, some fans have already started looking forward to potential summer targets for Klopp’s team. Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech has been rumoured as a Liverpool target on a couple of occasions. Here is what he could potentially bring to this Reds side, and why I think he may actually be a real target for Klopp in the summer.
The Moroccan international naturally plays as a right forward in a 4-3-3 formation with Ajax – very similar to Mohamed Salah’s role and position in Liverpool’s 4-3-3. However, Ziyech has played as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Klopp himself has been fielding the 4-2-3-1 with the double pivot more often recently.
Ziyech would be a massive asset in both formations and would offer more fluidity to Liverpool’s attack given the free roles that all front men would occupy with his presence on the pitch. We saw a similar story for Liverpool against Manchester United earlier this season, when Salah and Roberto Firmino particularly were seen switching positions often, causing too much trouble for the United defence.
Ziyech is also capable of playing on the left and has made appearances there for Ajax and – more recently – his national side. The Moroccan’s versatility would mean he could act as great cover for Liverpool’s front three.
Passing and technical ability
Liverpool’s Salah, Mane, and Firmino have left very little to be desired from our attack, but Ziyech can match their energy in movement and forward runs and add his exquisite passing and technical ability on the ball.
The Moroccan’s ability on the ball is remarkable, with six assists to his name so far this season and more key passes per game (4) than any other Ajax player has managed. In fact, out of any Liverpool player this season, Salah (7) is the only one to manage more assists than Ziyech, but the Ajax man still manages more key passes per game.
Ziyech’s dribbling and through balls are also exceptional, and his crosses make him more dangerous in wider areas than Salah and Mane are. Overall, Ziyech’s ability on the ball could offer big things for a Liverpool team that has struggled to create chances at a slower pace at times this season.
Of course, no forward player – even so-called playmakers like Ziyech – is convincing if he doesn’t get on the score sheet often enough. The 25-year-old has been a constant name on the score sheet for Ajax over the past seasons. What’s perhaps more encouraging is that he always manages to improve on his previous season’s tally.
Having scored seven and nine goals from his first two seasons at Ajax, Ziyech has already reached double figures for the Dutch club this season and is currently tied with Tadic as Ajax’s top scorer with 10 goals.
It is perhaps for the better that Klopp has decided to maintain the team’s rhythm and not disturb it with incoming players and subsequently potential changes to the starting eleven and system. However, it is expected that the German will be looking to add to his attacking firepower in the summer after his attempts to sign Lyon’s Nabil Fekir failed last summer.
Ziyech can arguably be put in the same bracket as the Frenchman, and he would most definitely be a great addition to this Liverpool team.