The number of midfielders Liverpool have been linked with has dwindled as the summer transfer window quickly approaches and plans for next season are in full swing.
All the focus was reportedly on capturing Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund and it seemed that dream could become a reality until it was revealed that Jurgen Klopp wanted to spread the transfer budget over more than just the 19-year-old England international.
Bellingham now looks close to a move to Real Madrid, while Liverpool have their sights set on Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister, Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Sporting Lisbon’s Manuel Ugarte.
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Record in Portugal have written: “Liverpool are now the frontrunners for Manuel Ugarte’s signature – having ‘intensively’ watched the player in the last few games. A bid is expected from Liverpool this week with Manuel Ugarte’s agents.”
While everyone is well aware of the type of player Mac Allister and Mount due to their achievements in the Premier League, little is known about the combative midfielder Ugarte as Liverpool apparently circle.
The Uruguayan has been a name tossed about by Liverpool fans for several months as goals in midfield for the summer were discussed. When news of Klopp’s interest broke, the Anfield faithful were delighted.
Ugarte is very similar to a N’Golo Kante type midfielder in that he storms the field looking for attacks to break. He has made a name for himself across Europe as a no-nonsense tackler who excels at destroying promising moments for the opposition.
According to FBref, he is in the top 1% of players in the same position outside Europe’s top five leagues for tackles per 90 in the last year (4.65 per game), and is also in the top 3% for interceptions (2 .13 per game) and top 10% for blocks (1.66 per game).
Liverpool’s decision to cut a move for Bellingham was not met with much enthusiasm, but it makes sense given the limited purchasing power. After neglecting the position for several transfer windows, more than one midfield addition was needed and the trio of Mac Allister, Mount and Ugarte were able to push the Reds back to the top.
The 22-year-old’s relentless pursuit of opposing players would allow the more creative types on the Reds side to shine while knowing they are ably protected.
Ugarte can play in a variety of positions and has been used in a 4-2-3-1 formation used at Sporting – something Klopp can deploy in the coming period. The 22-year-old is talented enough to get the ball in tight spaces and find a way out while releasing one of his teammates.
Something Liverpool sometimes missed this campaign is a real engine in the middle of the park. Jordan Henderson turns 33 in June, while Fabinho has rarely had a rest. The Brazilian’s form has dropped dramatically at times this season. The tireless Ugarte can correct this and add that much-needed needle to the center of Klopp’s side.
Forget Bellingham, Ugarte could be the one Liverpool need in the summer.
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