Liverpool thumped Bournemouth 4-0 in the Premier League last weekend to continue their imperious form and maintain the pursuit of silverware.
With Storm Isha threatening Jurgen Klopp’s side’s fluency, a goalless first half was a fair reflection of a slightly disjointed effort, but Liverpool clicked into gear after the break, as has become a trend this season, to blitz the Cherries and create a five-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
There has been much to cheer about for the resurgent Anfield side this season, having put last term’s malaise firmly behind them, with sweeping changes made to the midfield to revive the energy and spirit.
Of course, the work is never done and bolstering the defence has been a topic of transfer conversation for some time now, and while results such as the one at the Vitality Stadium underscore Liverpool’s strength as title challengers, reinforcements are needed to preserve the rekindled form.
Liverpool’s search for defenders
Joel Matip’s season-ending injury against Fulham in December was a cruel blow for a stalwart out of contract at the end of the season, but Jarell Quansah’s emergence has ensured that drastic measures need not be taken this month.
The central defence is not the only area that needs investment, however, with a new left-back being considered for transfer in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Rayan Ait-Nouri.
According to Football Insider, Liverpool are set to rival Arsenal for the signature of the Algeria international in the summer, with Wolves unwilling to do business this month, as Klopp continues to assess his options in defence.
The Old Gold have placed a lofty £50m price tag on their player and it’s now up to the Reds’ shrewd negotiating skills to bypass the Gunners’ interest and reach an agreement this year.
Why Liverpool are interested in Rayan Ait-Nouri
Admittedly, Joe Gomez has performed admirably at left-back over recent matches and has been quirkily dubbed a “Swiss army knife” for his noteworthy multi-functionality.
The 26-year-old has played the role nine times this term due to injuries to both Andrew Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas but Ait-Nouri would be a natural rising star down that flank to work his way up to a starring role under Klopp’s wing.
This season, now under Gary O’Neil’s leadership, the £10k-per-week ace has featured 17 times in the Premier League, as per Sofascore, completing 84% of his passes, averaging 2.1 tackles and 4.7 ball recoveries per game and succeeding with 61% of his dribbles and 59% of his contested duels.
Rayan Ait-Nouri: Key Characteristics
As per FBref, the 22-year-old dynamo ranks among the top 1% of full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for successful take-ons (dribbles) and the top 11% for tackles made per 90, which effectively illuminates his prowess as one of the most frightening vehicles the position has to offer.
Praised for his “delicious” distribution by The Athletic’s Tim Spiers, the four-cap international is certainly not the finished product but he does boast a range of qualities that would offer Liverpool a new dimension in their wide play, with Robertson, for all his qualities, ranking among the bottom 20% for successful take-ons per 90.
“Brilliant” Liverpool talent could be out for 3 months after surgery update
The winger could have some opportunities down the stretch.
Tsimikas, Liverpool’s second-choice left-back, is considered a similar player to Robertson on his FBref page too and for this reason, it might be wise to swoop in for a rising talent such as Ait-Nouri, who would open up a new dimension.
Moreover, Ait-Nouri’s breakneck style of play could be perfect for Luis Diaz, who hasn’t quite reached his zenith this season and will be desperate for an upswing in form heading into the business end.
How Rayan Ait-Nouri could unlock Luis Diaz
Liverpool signed Diaz from FC Porto for an initial fee of £37m in January 2022 and after an exciting start to life on Merseyside the winger was ravaged by injury during the 2022/23 campaign.
This season, fully recovered and with a successful pre-season behind him, Diaz has only scored six goals and supplied two assists across 26 matches in all competitions this term, which is hardly the kind of prolific form that Klopp will demand of his frontline.
This said, the 27-year-old is a true “game-changer” – as he has been hailed by reporter Charlotte Coates – and Anfield supporters have been treated to some mesmeric displays over the past few years that have cemented the belief that he can be a leading member over the coming years.
He will need to start ramping up that direct return, however, and Ait-Nouri, whom Spiers has also declared a “phenomenal” talent when he was a teenager (Ait-Nouri, not Spiers), has the skills to pave a launchpad from which Diaz can use to soar to new levels of success.
Diaz might be performing below the desired standard regarding his clinical touch right now, but he is undoubtedly one of the most mobile and electric wingers around with remarkable technical skill, ranking among the top 7% of positional peers over the past year for pass completion and the top 11% for touches in the attacking box per 90.
By signing Ait-Nouri, Liverpool would have an engine behind Diaz to charge his exploits tirelessly, barnstorming his way into the outer rim of the final third and providing the Colombian, whose fleet-footedness allows him to drift into the box with ease, with supplementing to start racking up some more considerable numbers.
He alone wouldn’t be able to bring those numbers up but Ait-Nouri could be exactly the type of full-back to increase the ever-improving dynamism and fluency of this resurgent Liverpool team, and while Diaz is not quite there yet, the signs suggest that his very own renaissance could be just around the corner.