Heir to Gini Wijnaldum: Liverpool must swoop for “incredible” £45m-rated maestro – opinion

Heir to Gini Wijnaldum: Liverpool must swoop for “incredible” £45m-rated maestro – opinion

Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar is reportedly available for £25m this summer, and Liverpool must swoop for the talented technician as they seek a replacement for Gini Wijnaldum.

What’s the story?

According to French outlet L’Equipe, the 22-year-old’s value has plummeted after an underwhelming campaign with the Ligue 1 giants, meaning a potential bargain is there to be had.

The report claims that Aouar would be open to offers coming his way, but with Arsenal also thought to be interested in acquiring his services, Jurgen Klopp may have to move quickly to secure his signature.

Liverpool must swoop

Liverpool will be glad to see the back of a testing 2020/21 campaign, where serious injuries to several key players destroyed their hopes of retaining their Premier League crown. The Reds recovered admirably in the latter stages of the season, winning their final five games to secure a Champions League qualification spot.

However, there are still expected to be several changes made by the Merseyside club over the coming months as Klopp looks to freshen up his first team squad, and a successor to Wijnaldum should be  top of the wish list.

The Dutch international is expected to join Barcelona on a free transfer once his current contract expires, leaving a substantial hole in the Liverpool engine room.

Wijnaldum offered a unique combination of skills which will be hard for any player to replicate, with the 30-year-old often impressing through his work rate, technical ability and eye for goal.

Nevertheless, when comparing the two midfielders’ numbers, there are some surprising similarities.

Despite Aouar regularly playing a slightly more advanced role at the Groupama Stadium than the one Wijnaldum often played in Klopp’s system, the France international still matched the Liverpool man’s 0.6 tackles per league game this season, and his total of 0.6 interceptions per league game was only just under Wijnaldum’s 0.7.

In an attacking sense, Aouar completely outperformed his counterpart. Admittedly this is partly down to the tactical responsibilities placed upon Wijnaldum, but it’s still telling all the same.

Aouar recorded 2.3 shots per league game compared to Wijnaldum’s 0.8, made 1.3 key passes where the Dutchman made just 0.6, and also pulled off 1.5 dribbles in contrast to Wijnaldum’s 0.9.

After Manchester City found life tough against an impressive Lyon side back in 2018, Pep Guardiola was quick to lavish praise on Les Gones’ midfield maestro.

“Houssem Aouar is a very good player. He is incredible. We talk a lot about (Tanguy) Ndombele, but Aouar is also excellent. He’s always very calm with the ball at his feet, with an excellent technical quality,” marvelled the City boss.

With Aouar having a market value of £45m (Transfermarkt), Liverpool could solve their midfield problem with a clever cut-price deal this summer. Their director of football Michael Edwards must swoop for the Frenchman and provide Klopp with the tools he needs to mount another title tilt next year.

In other news… Liverpool heading for massive transfer mistake over £30m liability, Klopp must avoid