Liverpool are understood to be interested in a deal to sign Luis Diaz from Porto this month, as Jurgen Klopp looks for an injection of quality into the club’s forward line.
Diaz has been in sensational form for Porto across the opening months of the campaign and the Reds are believed to be willing to sanction a €60m deal for the Colombian, who will increase competition for places and add to the goal threat at Anfield.
With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane currently away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, Diaz could provide the prefect solution to the duo’s absence should he make the move to the Premier League.
With the rumour mill in overdrive, we’ve decided to profile the winger and assess how he could fit in at Liverpool.
Diaz has been in Europe for two-and-a-half seasons, having turned down interest from Zenit Saint Petersburg to follow the well-trodden path of Colombian stars to sign for Porto.
He rose to prominence in his homeland with Atlético Junior before making the move to Portugal, scoring his first goal in his third appearance during a Champions League qualifier with FC Krasnodar.
His first season saw the winger score 14 goals in all competitions as Porto won the title, before adding a further 11 goals in all competitions in 2020/21.
The 24-year-old enjoyed an excellent Copa America during the summer, scoring four goals in five appearances including a brace in the third place play-off win over Peru.
Diaz has continued that goalscoring form during an explosive start to the current campaign, scoring 12 goals – equalling his total across the previous two league seasons – in just 15 Primeira Liga appearances with only Benfica’s Darwin Nunez having scored more.
He also has four assists, averaging better than a goal-involvement-per game this season.
Role and style
Diaz is comfortable of either flank but does his best work operating off the left, coming inside on his preferred right foot in a trait that will appeal to Liverpool’s recruitment staff.
Mane and Salah often drift inwards to make a narrow front three, freeing space for full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to push forward and create from wide areas.
He possesses an excellent first touch and an explosive change of direction, whilst he is able to carry possession at pace and would provide genuine competition at Anfield.
🇨🇴 A sizzling run & finish from Luis Díaz ⚡️
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 27, 2020
Comparisons between the duo this season favour Diaz, who in addition to outscoring the Senegal international has the edge on a number of vital metrics.
Diaz’s shot conversion rate (32.43%) is far superior to Mane’s (21.62%) this season, whilst there is a pleasing variety to his goals with his 12 having been scored via right foot (7), head (3) and left foot (2).
The Colombian also betters Mane for chances created per 90 minutes (2.1 to 1.2) and perhaps crucially provides admirable work-rate and tenacity, bettering Mane again for ball recoveries (4.6 to 3.3) and for ground duels won (5 to 4.1) per 90 minutes this season.
It makes for impressive reading, even given the differing standards between Portuguese football and the Premier League.
Liverpool have been linked with several targets during the January transfer window, including Premier League proven additions in Raphinha (Leeds) and Jarrod Bowen (West Ham).
Each of those would be difficult to prise from divisional rivals mid-season, whilst a look at the attacking data also points towards the Reds’ pursuit of the Porto winger.
Diaz can better both players for goals, shot conversion, shots per 90 minutes and chances created per 90 minutes this season, whilst crucially his preference for the left flank could be a major factor.
Been watching that first angle of Luis Díaz’s goal all week 🔂
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 3, 2021
Mohamed Salah – despite his present failure to sign a new deal at Liverpool – remains the Reds’ leading light and both Raphinha and Bowen have performed best when operating from his station on the right of the attack.
With Diogo Jota have outperformed Roberto Firmino in recent months, competition – and a long-term replacement – for Mane appears to be on Liverpool’s agenda as the club look to transition from a forward line that has brought much success in recent seasons.
Divock Origi has also been linked with an exit in January in search of regular first-team football, whilst Takumi Minamino has failed to live up to the excitement that greeted his arrival from Red Bull Salzburg.
Is he attainable in January?
Diaz has a release clause in his contract of €80m (£67m) which means Liverpool can activate a deal should the Reds be willing to pay that sum this month.
However, it is believed the Premier League side will target a deal at a considerably lower fee with speculation having surfaced over a deal in the region of €60m (£50m).
Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea were all linked with a €35m deal for Diaz last summer, but his stock has risen considerably following an electric start to the campaign.
Liverpool have been comparatively modest spenders in recent windows but have shown previously a willingness to sanction deals for the right personnel and Diaz appears a player with the right profile and potential to succeed in English football.
With Porto having been fined in December for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations, the Portuguese side may be willing to accept a sizeable offer for their prized possession this month.