Links between Christoph Baumgartner and Liverpool continue to gather momentum as the Reds search for a replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum.
The Dutchman departed Anfield to join PSG this summer, and Baumgartner is being touted as a suitable replacement.
Like Wijnaldum, the Hoffenheim man is a multifaceted player, capable of playing a wide variety of roles and positions.
Last season, he featured on the left, through the middle and on the right. While you may have noticed that for Austria at Euro 2020 so far he’s been playing as a forward.
His ability to play a number of roles is aided by his strong technical skillset. When playing in more advanced positions, he operates cleverly in between the lines, dribbling in tight areas to evade pressure and create openings for teammates around him.
Last season he registered three assists from an expected assist (xA) total of 3.87, recorded four second assists – the pass before the final pass – and averaged 1.13 passes leading to shots on goal.
But not only a creator of chances, he’s also a goal threat of his own. The 21-year-old is extremely astute at making late runs into the penalty area unmarked to latch onto passes or crosses fired in and finished last season netting an impressive nine goals across all competitions.
Although his proficiency with the ball stands out, he’s not a player who excels on the defensive side of the game. In terms of both defensive duels and aerial duels won, his respective success rates of 47.5% and 40.9% are unremarkable.
For comparison, Wijnaldum had much more imposing success rates of 59.6% and 52.6% in both of these departments last season.
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Baumgartner’s low output in this regard could be in part as a consequence of him playing in more advanced areas on a regular basis, meaning when engaging with the opposition, he might be focussed more on pressing structures and cutting out angles rather than winning possession of the ball.
Yet even so, Liverpool might be more tempted to pursue a midfielder with more influence on the defensive side of the game, which is why Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Florian Neuhaus continues to be heavily linked.
The 24-year-old usually plays in slightly deeper positions in the heart of his side’s midfield and finished last season with impressive success rates of 57.5% and 61.1% in terms of defensive duels on the floor and in the air.
Crucially though, he’s still capable of contributing inside the attacking third and finished the season with eight goals and eight assists across all competitions.
His ability without the ball could be decisive if Liverpool are weighing up a move for either of these two players, as has been reported. Yet in truth, no matter which they of the two they pursue, both possess the ability to fill at least some of the void left by Wijnaldum’s recent departure.