Written by Lewis Thompson
With Mane, Origi and Minamino having all officially departed Liverpool Football Club on permanent transfers, between them leaving behind 49 goal contributions last season, there leaves a question, will they all be replaced and who will fill the attacking gap left behind?
So far we have seen the additions of Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz to bolster our attacking front three and directly replace those who have left. The signing of Diaz has already been a massive success as the ex-Porto winger has started in a Champions League final, FA Cup final and Carabao Cup final since signing for the club in January. The addition of Nunez on top of Diaz will add a different style of threat and look to replace the goals that Mane will no longer provide. The signing of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Fabio Carvalho must also be noted as he will look to come in and show off his play-making talents and high-pressing features that any Liverpool player must contain. Nunez being 23, Diaz 25 and Carvalho only 19 shows that we are building for a long-term future with these players.
Football clubs are constantly changing and adapting to suit different play styles, managers and all in all to keep up with how the modern game is changing. Liverpool’s new sporting director Julian Ward, who replaced Michael Edwards, has been tasked with finding the new wave of Liverpool’s attacking players and so far this summer he has been successful with the names previously mentioned. That being said, The Reds could still have space for another attacker to provide competition to those who are looking to be the first-choice option next season.
Recently, a brand new Brexit point system has been introduced for transfers in the Premier League. This makes it easier for English clubs to secure work permits for players signing from abroad. South American players, particularly from Brazil and Argentina are much easier to attain and bring to the Premier League than they were before.
Here’s some quick information to describe how the points system works. The FA describe points being scored for senior and talented young players based on:
- “Senior and youth international appearances.”
- “Quality of the selling club, based on the league they are in, league position and progression in continental competition.”
- “Club appearances, based on domestic league and continental competition minutes”
Earlier this year, Manchester City secured the signature of 22-year-old Argentinian striker Julian Alvarez, an exciting hot prospect who looks to have the whole world at his feet. When looking for another attacker, Ward may have to use similar tactics to City and explore the South American region to find the next big thing.
It is known that Liverpool scout the South American region extensively and they were already aware of the likes of Diaz and Nunez as teenagers, before their moves to Europe.
In the future, to save money, the club could look at going straight to South America to make their purchases before waiting for the retrospective talents to make a move to Europe first. Ward could start with this new approach right away and this is where I introduce to you the 19-year-old, Brazilian, Santos forward, Marcos Leonardo.
According to Brazilian TV presenter, Milton Neves, the forward is already ‘on his way’ to Anfield, following his comments after Santos drew with Corinthians on Saturday. [sportwitness.co.uk].
Neves said, “Corinthians yesterday escaped being defeated by the Santos kids. Marcos Leonardo, who’s going to Liverpool, this guy is the new Romário!”
Now, obviously these comments are to be taken with a pinch of salt and this is a slight exaggeration as others around him did laugh at the comments, however, the move to Liverpool was not dismissed. Leonardo is known as one of the most exciting talents on the continent, along with now Man City player Alvarez. He is expected to be the next big talent that Santos produce, having previously created some of football’s biggest names, Neymar and Pele.
Ben Bocsak describes Marcos Leonardo as “unsurprisingly a player full of flair and eye-catching flamboyance” and compares him like-for-like to Bobby Firmino at Liverpool whilst also having similar explosive qualities to Luis Suarez in his prime. [liverpool.com]
Standing at 5 foot 7, Leonardo is a right-footed centre-forward who can also play as a second striker just in behind. This season Leonardo has produced 12 goals and 3 assists in 31 appearances across all competitions. Since joining Santos FC in July 2020 from the Under 20 squad, he has scored 15 goals in 46 appearances in the Brasileiro Serie A (the Brazilian first division) and in total has 25 goals and 4 assists in 94 professional appearances across all competitions. Also, picking up 15 yellow cards along the way, so it is clear to see where the Suarez comparisons come from …
[Whoscored.com] break down some of Marcos’ main characteristics. Under his ‘strengths’ they list:
- Through balls
- Headed attempts
And under ‘weaknesses’:
- Defensive contribution
Two things that could definitely be improved under a manager like Jurgen Klopp. They also go on to describe his style of play in a few brief sentences, ‘Gets fouled often’, ‘Indirect set-piece threat’, ‘Likes to dribble’, ‘Does not dive into tackles’ and ‘Commits fouls often’ some of which go very hand-in-hand with the type of player Luis Suarez was and what a player like Firmino currently is.
In the 2021/2022 season, Marcos Leonardo has scored 12 goals in 58 shots with an expected goals rate of 11.03. This means that out of those 58 shots, he was only expected to score 11 of them and being ahead of your expected goals is always an impressive stat for a young talent.
Immediately. pic.twitter.com/BOEMxdbvR5— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) June 28, 2022
The above graphic also shows Leonardo’s shot placement map, comparing his goals scored with his shots on target. Leonardo’s output this season has been very impressive as the forward averages 0.65 goal contributions per 90 minutes. When you compare this to the fact that Santos only average 1.28 goals per 90 in the league, it is understandably a very impressive stat. When it comes to dribbling, the number nine averages 3.08 dribbles per 90 with a 57.6 per cent success rate, relatively high numbers for a centre forward.
Marcos Leonardo is currently valued at 7 million Euros according to [transfermarkt.com] and although we do not know much about him at this current rate, he is definitely a player to keep your eye on. It would not surprise me at all if we see the Brazilian making a move to Europe or England in the very near future and he is a player that I hope Liverpool go after as there really is nothing negative to say about the young man.
Marcos Leonardo é um escândalo. Que jogador.— Dudu (@eduardolucasvg_) June 13, 2022
Matheus Nascimento também, que crack.pic.twitter.com/tD9v3KQVlR