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Liverpool already have player who could save Jurgen Klopp millions on Florian Neuhaus – Liverpool Echo

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Football fans and pundits love to give an opinion when asked who they think their team should sign next.

Clubs are forever searching for the missing piece of the puzzle, the one player who can even lift the strengths of the other 10 on the pitch onto a whole new glorious level.

Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey has been speaking to HITC about who the Reds should target, and his suggestion was made with the idea of replacing what a certain Brazilian used to bring to the side.

“I think they’ve missed that (sort of player) since Coutinho. Someone who can get in those pockets, travel with the ball and start committing defenders to come out of those spaces which they can exploit,” he said.

And the man Heskey believes can fill that void is Florian Neuhaus, a 24-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Borussia Monchengladbach.

As luck would have it, Neuhaus is reportedly keen on a move to Anfield. Kicker journalist Christain Falk made the claim on his podcast, and also stated that Liverpool are interested in meeting the player’s 40m Euro release clause.

Whether Heskey actually has insider knowledge of the transfer deal or not, the former England international was certainly correct when he identified Neuhaus as someone who can travel with the ball.

The Monchengladbach man is ranked eighth in the Bundesliga for progressive carries this season (per FBRef), which are those runs that “move the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least 5 yards, or any carry into the penalty area,” and exclude those from the defensive 40 percent of the pitch.

Florian Neuhaus of Borussia Moenchengladbach

Florian Neuhaus of Borussia Moenchengladbach
(Image: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

However, on a per 90 minutes played basis, his average of 6.5 is below the figures posted by the likes of Jordan Henderson (7.9) and Thiago Alcantara (7.1).

Neuhaus’ is also behind Curtis Jones, who averages 10 progressive carries per 90 in 2020/21. A comparison of the two players is interesting for a couple of reasons.

Heskey mentioned Liverpool’s number 17 when highlighting the type of player he believes the Reds have lacked since Coutinho moved to Barcelona.

“We don’t really have that at this moment in time. I thought Curtis Jones could be one of those but when you’re in and out of the team, like he is, it’s difficult – especially when you’re a young lad as well!

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“So someone like (Neuhaus) would suit Liverpool in the way that they play. Someone who can really drive with the ball,” he added.

Liverpool's reserve goalkeeper Pegguy Arphexad and Emile Heskey hold the UEFA Cup in 2001

Liverpool’s reserve goalkeeper Pegguy Arphexad and Emile Heskey hold the UEFA Cup in 2001
(Image: Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

But the stats bear out that Jones can do this. On FBRef, the Statsbomb data highlights 10 men from Europe’s big five leagues who have shared statistical similarities to a player over the past 365 days, and Jones is third on the list for Neuhaus.

The German is sixth in the young Liverpool midfielder’s rankings too. As they only share two other players in their list of matches – Seko Fofana and Fabian Ruiz Pena – it implies that Jones and Neuhaus have been doing a lot of the same things this season.

This raises an interesting question. As Neuhaus is four years older, would Liverpool view him as more ready to become a regular cog in the Reds’ midfield than Jones when everyone is fit and available? If Gini Wijnaldum leaves as looks likely, there will certainly be a berth to fill.

And Neuhaus has an edge over Jones when it comes to progressive passing, with his tally of 160 the sixth most in Germany this season. Watch any highlight reel and you will see he’s excellent at bypassing opposition midfielders and defenders with long passes.

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Looking at other statistics also suggests he has evolved over the last three seasons, even at his tender age.

Neuhaus is passing into the final third more but creating fewer chances year-on-year, and the proportion of his touches which are in the attacking third has dropped each year too.

It will be fascinating to see what type of player he develops into in the years to come, but he appears to be becoming a deep lying playmaker who can also carry the ball forward regularly too.

Whether the next stage of his football evolution happens with Liverpool, and what that would mean for Curtis Jones’ career progression, remains to be seen.

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