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Liverpool might be wise to avoid midfielder Pep Lijnders and Diogo Jota like

With Gini Wijnaldum having confirmed that he will be leaving Liverpool, it will be interesting to see who the club signs as his replacement.

As midfield is the one area of the squad which is well stocked, and with finances tight, they may choose to invest their funds elsewhere.

A first-choice trio of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson looks very promising indeed, and Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be competing for spots too as things stand.

Nonetheless, if a decent player becomes available for a reasonable price, it would be foolish not to at least consider whether he would be a good fit for the team.

According to The Athletic, Wolves are prepared to sell Ruben Neves for £35million in order to raise funds for their new manager, whomever that happens to be.

There is currently no indication that Liverpool are looking to sign the 24-year-old, but Pep Lijnders has previously expressed his admiration for a player with whom he worked at Porto.

“I know him very well, his ambition, his passion for the game, his professionalism,” Lijnders told O Jogo in 2019. “I know what he gives to the team and this type of player always interests us.”

Diogo Jota would no doubt vouch for his former teammate too, not least as he assisted him three times during their two seasons together in the Premier League.

If Neves were to sign after the season the Reds’ treatment room has just endured, the medical staff at the club would at least be happy to see that the Portuguese international is almost always available.

Neves has made at least 35 league appearances in each of the last four seasons and started all 42 Championship matches during his first season in England when Wolves won the division.

But durability alone would not be enough to earn him a place in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, so what else does he offer?

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The Wolves midfielder has scored some impressive long-range goals, including strikes against Manchester United and Arsenal, but while they look impressive on a highlights reel they don’t tell the full story.

Per Understat, Neves has taken an incredible 183 shots from outside the box during his three seasons in the Premier League and just four of them found the back of the net.

However, he has certainly proved useful from further back. He has been in the top 10 players in the division for completed open play passes into the final third in each of the last three campaigns ( per FBRef ) and only two other men – Granit Xhaka and Kyle Walker – can say the same.

To have achieved this while playing for a side who have averaged below 50 percent possession in all three seasons certainly shines a positive light upon his passing ability.

That said, it’s important to be strong at long passing at Liverpool, where they like to get the ball forward quickly so that Firmino, Mane and Salah can wreak havoc upon the opposing defence.

Neves’ has been accurate with 71.3 percent of his long passes in the Premier League, which puts him a little short of what Fabinho (77.7), Thiago (82.2) and Wijnaldum (89.5) provided this season. But as with any football statistic, playing for a better team should see this improve.

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It’s also interesting to look at how his defensive statistics have changed over his time in England. Where he was ranked fourth in the Premier League for interceptions made in 2018/19, this season he was fifth for tackles won.

Neves made 1.53 interceptions for every tackle won in his first season in the top division, but that dropped to 0.74 in 2019/20 and 0.70 in the most recent campaign. He has relied more upon recovery rather than anticipation as time has passed, though that could be partly a team effect rather than any change on his part.

However, as Thiago, Fabinho and Wijnaldum all recorded figures of between 0.96 and 1.04 in this area this season, it would be something for the Liverpool scouting team to bear in mind.

It ultimately seems that while Neves is a talented player, he may not offer anything different to the options which Klopp already has at his fingertips. The Liverpool manager will certainly be listening to his assistant on this matter though.

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