As John W Henry made his fortune in futures trading, he clearly knows the importance of buying or selling at the best possible time. Still, Liverpool may have made a costly mistake in the transfer market, at least if the rumors are to be believed.
Last summer, it was reported that the Reds were looking to sign Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco for £25million. Although this deal did not materialize, the rumors refused to go away and surfaced once again.
However, things can move forward now. Foot Mercato’s Santi Aouna has claimed Liverpool have contacted the player’s representatives over a potential transfer, with Jurgen Klopp having identified Tchouameni as ‘one of his priorities’ for this summer.
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However, it would now cost at least £42million to bring the 22-year-old midfielder out of League One and the Premier League. As Tchouameni will only have two years left on his contract at the end of this season, why has the price increased by 68%?
One of the main differences from last summer is that the Monegasque is now a full international, having made eight appearances for France this season. Tchouameni also scored his first goal last time out, netting the winner in a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast.
While Ibrahima Konaté has yet to make the move to the senior team, he won two Under-21 caps alongside Tchouameni in the last European Championship at this level. If Liverpool need insight into the player’s character before making an offer, they have someone to ask.
With the Reds’ recruitment process as analytical as it is, Tchouameni will need to tick the right numerical boxes and he has done so recently. In February, WhoScored declared the Monaco midfielder the fittest player in Europe’s big five leagues according to their algorithm.
A first-half red card in a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux saw him fall down their pecking order, but even achieving that lofty status at such a tender age is no small feat. Tchouameni is most impressive on defensive metrics, with just two players in Europe’s top five leagues amassing a greater combined total of tackles and interceptions in 2021/22 (per FBRef).
It’s also encouraging to see that he’s leaning toward the latter of the two defensive stats. Milan Badelj of Genoa is the only one of the other 10 players in the big league with more than 170 tackles and interceptions to have a lower proportion of the former’s compound total.
Tackles definitely have their place, but there’s no guarantee of retaining possession after making one. If a player registers a lot of interceptions, it implies that he has greater anticipation skills and can step in to quell any danger before the last resort of a tackle is required.
And it’s not that Tchouameni is only strong on the defensive end, that’s just where he ranks highest. He can certainly play too, as evidenced by the fact that he is among the top 10 players in France for passing in the final third, progressive passing and dribbling success rate. Perhaps more remarkable is the fact that he sits higher in the passing and dribbling charts than he did in 2020/21, clear evidence of a player who is developing, improving and who may now be set for a move to a bigger club.
These are also parameters that Thiago Alcantara has performed well against over the years, which helps explain why Statsbomb thinks Tchouameni is one of the 10 midfielders he most resembles.
In that case, maybe the Reds see Tchouameni as the long-term heir to Thiago’s place in the team? Whether or not that comes true, we’ll have to see. But waiting a year – if they’re really interested – has already supposedly cost them £17m, and they may not want to risk that happening again.
This article was first published in March 2022 and has since been updated