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    Liverpool could forget about Ederson with bid for £60m “Rolls-Royce”

    The stream of summer transfer chatter is starting to flow with speed, but Liverpool have not yet entered the rapids as Arne Slot acclimatises to his role as Anfield head coach and FSG make headway in identifying targets capable of making a real impact.

    In fairness, Liverpool have always conducted their business in a cloak of secrecy, often evading the all-seeing eye of Fabrizio Romano before news surges into the room like a steam engine, sending the Reds faithful into instantaneous overdrive.

    So, patience. Let’s take a breath, have a seat. Michael Edwards is something of an expert and no doubt has some exciting stuff planned this summer. So when reports from France this week suggesting Liverpool were close to agreeing to a deal with Atalanta for Ederson, tough-tackling midfielder, were debunked by a downright James Pearce, disappointment should be put to one side.

    Liverpool, it should be known, are fully intent on improving Slot’s squad before the start of the 2024/25 campaign, with a centre-back, midfielder and wide forward all needed, at least one of which will likely fall into the category of ‘marquee’.

    Ederson’s a good player, instrumental in winning the Europa League, but Liverpool are looking for a player to dominate for an age, and they appear to be mulling over a move for a talented young player who could serve that purpose.

    Liverpool lining up midfield addition

    According to Football Insider, Edwards and Liverpool’s transfer team have held internal discussions over Alan Varela as they weigh up a bid for the 22-year-old Porto star.

    The Reds signed Wataru Endo from Stuttgart for £16m last summer but there is a need for a long-term star at No. 6 and Varela would fit the bill.

    However, with a £60m buyout clause in his contract, the Argentinian would take a sizeable portion out of Liverpool’s summer war chest – let’s take a look at whether it would be worth the effort…

    Alan Varela’s season in numbers

    Endo, to his credit, has done a brilliant job after his surprise move to Merseyside, featuring 44 times across all competitions, winning Liverpool’s December Player of the Month honour and being praised as a “machine” and “footballing-wise exceptional” by recently departed manager Jurgen Klopp.

    Alan Varela for Porto.

    But he has his limitations. Aged 31, Endo is not a long-term option. He’s industrious and composed but he lacks mobility and the complete, athletic skill set that the likes of Rodri and Declan Rice boast.

    Varela, despite sitting in the early stage of his career and yet to ply his trade in a top-five European league, has been brilliant in Sergio Conceicao’s side, featuring 44 times since joining from Boca Juniors one year ago and starting all eight of Porto’s Champions League fixtures, excellent across two legs as they suffered an agonising penalties defeat against Arsenal in the last 16.

    Alan Varela: CL Performances vs Arsenal

    Stats

    1st leg (1-0 Porto)

    2nd leg (1-0 Arsenal)

    Minutes played

    90′

    90+7′

    Touches

    38

    41

    Accurate passes

    25/28 (89%)

    29/31 (91%)

    Possession lost

    4x

    4x

    Dribble attempts

    0/1

    0/1

    Ground duels won

    3/5

    3/5

    Tackles

    2

    3

    Interceptions

    3

    2

    Clearances

    1

    3

    Dribbled past

    0x

    0x

    Stats via Sofascore

    His ability to dictate tempo and flow in the centre of the park is one of his brightest qualities, and, moreover, his confident, tigerish style passed the test against Arsenal earlier in 2024, holding his own and impressing with ball-playing and defensive strength against a fearsome Gunners side.

    He’s also got the trappings of a world-class passer, ranking among the top 8% of central midfielders across divisions similar to Liga Portugal for pass completion and the top 5% for passes per 90, as per FBref.

    Despite his deep-lying role, he is creative and eager to find advancing peers with regularity, completing 90% of his passes in the Portuguese top flight this season but also creating five big chances and averaging one key pass per game, as per Sofascore.

    Dubbed a “Rolls-Royce of a player” by talent scout Jacek Kulig while he was still cutting his teeth in his South American homeland, the 5 foot 10 star would be a credit to Liverpool’s first team, and he would certainly be the option to go for over Ederson.

    Why Varela would be perfect for Arne Slot

    Ederson played a defining role in Atalanta’s dominant dismantling of Bayer Leverkusen in the Conference League final, ending Xabi Alonso’s side’s hopes of footballing immortality with an undefeated, treble-winning campaign.

    Atalanta star Ederson vs Bayer Leverkusen

    The 24-year-old Brazilian made 2.3 tackles and won 5.5 duels on average in Serie A this season but he only completed 84% of his passes and that’s while creating a key pass once every two matches.

    That’s half the output of Varela, and given that Ederson is two years the Argentine’s senior, it might be worth opting for the player with a higher ceiling, especially given that Endo and Mac Allister can ease the burden at the base of the midfield next season.

    One of the chief reasons that Slot was picked to succeed Klopp was his high press and crisp possession-based style, a hybrid of sorts between the German and Pep Guardiola.

    But this front-footed style will be curbed by Endo. By no fault of his own, the Japan star is not the ideal No. 6 to supercharge the newly-arrived Anfield system.

    Mats Wieffer, Feyenoord’s central midfielder and general of Slot’s midfield over the past few years, is not the most precise passer in the game but ranks among the top 10% of positional peers across divisions similar to the Dutch Eredivisie for passes attempted, the top 6% for progressive passes and the top 11% for tackles per 90.

    Slot needs energy and he needs exuberance, and in a talented young player in Varela, he would find exactly what he is looking for.

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    Arne Slot loves a winger and he might just find the perfect signing in this Premier League phenomenon.



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