Ghana's No. 1

Sancho and Werner more creative and clinical than Salah, Mane and Firmino

Published on: 15 February 2020

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That was Jurgen Klopp’s strategy in the transfer market last summer and it seems to have paid off handsomely.

After winning the Champions League and running Manchester City so close domestically last season, Klopp was so happy with his squad that he locked his cheque book away and let others scramble for new players.

It seems to have worked out well. The Reds are on the brink of winning a first league title for 30 years and nobody would bet against them winning five major trophies this season with the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup already in the bag.

But to standstill for too long is to regress. Klopp was right not to tinker last summer but it seems he is planning a shake-up of some sorts at the end of this season.

A central defender is expected to be bought as a replacement for Dejan Lovren while more specialised cover at full back is required. But two names linked with the Reds this week operate in the final third of the pitch, the area in which Liverpool are blessed with options.

Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner are on Liverpool’s radar it seems. Both are lighting up the Bundesliga and would undoubtedly be excellent acquisitions. But how would they fit in around Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino?

Don’t forget Divock Origi, whose cult hero status on Merseyside is secure after his vital interventions over the past 18 months, January signing Takumi Minamino, youngsters Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones, as well as Xherdan Shaqiri.

Liverpool are well stocked offensively but there is definitely a case to be made for adding to their ranks, rather than bring in a replacement for a departing star name.

It emerged this week that Salah will be called up to represent Egypt at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while he will join Mane in competing at the Africa Cup of Nations when it returns in the winter of 2021.

So already Liverpool will be without arguably their best player for the start of next season and unable to select two guaranteed starters for around four matches in the middle of the busy winter period.

Werner and Sancho would provide frightening depth and bring extra facets to Liverpool’s offensive game, too. But how do the Bundesliga pair compare to Anfield's devastating trio?

Sancho has emerged as one of the best wide players in world football since leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.

His goal involvement, combining the number of goals and assists, in league action since the start of the 2018-19 campaign is better than Salah, Mane and Firmino.

The England international has chalked up 24 goals and 27 assists in that period giving him 51 in total. Salah (50), Firmino (33) and Mane (40) are all short of Sancho on that, while Werner (49) is also better than Firmino and Mane.

Sancho has managed those numbers having played considerably less minutes than Liverpool's stars, too. He has played 3,999 minutes of league action since the start of 18-19, less than Salah (5,142), Mane (4,868) and Firmino (4,689).

It means Sancho boasts a superb minutes per goal involvement figure of 78, comfortably the best with Werner his closest rival on 88 minutes.

It is true that Dortmund play in a different system to Liverpool, in which more importance is placed on Sancho feeding his centre forward.

Firmino is Liverpool's creative hub, with Salah and Mane often receiving the ball at the crucial moment of an attack rather than the beginning.

But even so, Sancho's 27 league assists is more than double that of both Firmino and Mane and still a major increase on Salah's 14. His number of chances created per 90 minutes is also superb.

Sancho carves opposition defences up 2.5 times per game. That, again, is better than Salah (1.9), Firmino (1.5) and Mane (1.6). He is also more direct, attempting 6.9 dribbles per game with a success rate of 54.1 per cent.

Salah comes closest to Sancho in dribbles attempted on 4.1 but his success rate is lower at 49.1 per cent. Mane attempts 3.5 dribbles per 90 minutes but only completes 47.9 of them.

Werner has the capability to play anywhere along the front line but is naturally at home in the middle, using his searing pace to break opposition lines and cause mayhem.

Since the start of the 18-29 season, Werner has scored more goals than Liverpool's stars apart from Salah, who he is level with on 36. He also boasts more shots per 90 minutes than anyone else and more shots on target per game than anybody but the Egyptian.

The German international also hits the back of the net once every 120 minutes, 23 minutes quicker than his nearest rival Salah. Firmino (234), Mane (148) and Sancho (167) are all way behind Werner's number.

Liverpool's success, both domestic and in Europe, in the past three seasons has come with very few injuries to their key men in attack.

But with Mane and Salah, in particular, facing daunting schedules in 2020-21, is this the time that Klopp finally relieves the pressure on their shoulders and brings in two world class stars to help carry the load in pursuit of domination?


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