Ex-Everton defender proves Amavi is worthy of Liverpool risk
On more than one occasion this season, the defensive shortcomings of Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno have been called into question, most notably in the Europa League ties with Villarreal and Sevilla.
Finding another full-back with a better defensive skillset therefore seems necessary if Liverpool are to overcome odds of 8/1 to win the Premier League in the 2016/17 campaign, although one capable of also bringing plenty of attacking output to the table is vital given Jurgen Klopp’d preferred structure.
For example, among defenders in the past season, only Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov registered more successful crosses than Moreno, while the Spaniard created 16 more chances for teammates than anyone else. He was supplying an opportunity once every 44 minutes.
One of the latest left-backs to be linked with a Liverpool switch is Jordan Amavi, who was relegated from the Premier League in the last season with Aston Villa.
However, the 22-year-old Frenchman only featured in the opening 12 gameweeks of the season for Villa before rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while on international duty.
Despite playing in a struggling team, only six defenders in this period attempted more crosses than Amavi. Furthermore, he averaged over six attempted dribbles per game, which was understandably a league high among back-four members.
This dribbling from full-back could add a new dimension to Liverpool’s attacking capabilities, while Amavi’s defensive numbers are also much superior to his Spanish counterpart.
The Villa man trumps Moreno in every defensive discipline. He attempted and won a higher number of his headers (2.0 per game v 0.4) and tackles (3.0 v 2.2), alongside making more interceptions (3.7 v 2.0), ball recoveries (6.5 v 4.3), clearances (4.0 v 2.0) and blocks (0.3 v 0.2).
Given his age, a transfer fee in the region of £10m would seem like good business for Liverpool. The one concern could be how well Amavi returns from his lengthy injury.
However, the Reds only have to look across to their Merseyside rivals to realise players can return better than ever from an injury of this nature.
Joleon Lescott missed all of Wolves’ 2003/04 Premier League season because of a ruptured cruciate ligament which required knee surgery, but by the start of the 2006/07 campaign, at the age of 23, he was moving to Everton after a successful term back in the Championship.
Lescott was voted Players’ Player of the Year in his first two seasons at Goodison Park and eventually he was sold to Manchester City for more than four times the amount David Moyes paid for him.
Expecting Amavi to be sold in the future for £40m may be going overboard, but the statistics suggest he has the capacity to be a more rounded full-back than Moreno and history suggests that he can come back stronger from a serious knee injury.
Liverpool’s track record of signing direct from Villa in recent years hasn’t brought great success with Stewart Downing and Christian Benteke, but Amavi could well make true the phrase ‘third time lucky’.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.