Liverpool have been the most active club in the early stages of the summer transfer window but it still doesn’t look as though they are close to done when it comes to transfer business. Most of the speculation surrounding the club has been about bringing in a striker which still has to be done, but they have also been linked to midfielders such as Real Madrid’s Asier Illarramendi and Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic.
It seems unlikely that they would sign both of them as they have a few midfield choices within the squad already so lets take a look at both players and decide which player would be a better option for the Anfield club.
Asier Illarramendi – Real Madrid
International Experience: Spain U-17 and U-21
Honours: UEFA Champions League 2014, Super Cup 2014, Copa del Rey 2014, LFP Breakthrough Player 12/13, LFP Awards Best Midfielder 12/13, 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup Runnner Up.
Style of Play: Illarramendi is a defensive midfielder that was a product of the Real Sociedad youth system and went on to work his way through ranks before becoming a key player for the first team in the 12/13 season. The midfielder started 32 games and scored twice in 12/13 and was part of the Sociedad team that finished 4th and gained Champions League football. This led to Illarramendi being awarded LFP Breakthrough of the Year and he began to become heavily linked with top clubs. On the 12th of July 2013, Illarramendi signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid who paid a whopping €32.2m for the midfielder.
Since then, Illarramendi has played 59 games and scored 2 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid but still isn’t seen as a regular starter or a key player for the Spanish giants which makes the speculation of his exit no surprise. The defensive midfielder still has more than plenty to offer to top clubs as he has often been likened to the Liverpool legend that is Xabi Alonso but he still has some developing to do. The midfielder has an incredible defensive ability as he is great at tackling, intercepting and is very physical.
The Spaniard also has a great passing ability as last season he made an average of 33.6 passes and 1.6 long balls per game while he had a successful passing rate of 92%. Illarramendi would be a great buy for Liverpool if they sell Lucas, as he is a top notch defensive midfielder but as Liverpool are a very attacking side, it would mean that the Spaniard would have to improve his creativity in front of goal.
Matteo Kovacic – Inter Milan
International Experience: Croatia Senior Team (21 appearances, 1 goal), Featured at the 2014 World Cup.
Honours: Croatian First Football League 10/11 & 11/12, Croatian Football Cup 2011 & 2012.
Style of Play: The Italian media has been linking Liverpool with a move for Mateo Kovacic all summer, while the English media have been denying any truth in the rumours. This week, it was reported that Liverpool would listen to offers for Lucas Leiva and this led to speculation that Inter Milan would consider a cash plus player deal including Lucas for Kovacic. This transfer saga could go on all summer, and it is still very much up in the air whether it could happen at all.
Mateo Kovacic isn’t an out and out defensive midfielder like Illarramendi, but he is a versatile midfielder that can play anywhere in the midfield areas. The Croatian international played as an attacking midfielder and a left midfielder at Dinamo Zagreb, as a classic central midfielder for Croatia and as a deep lying playmaker at Inter Milan. The midfielder is effective in winning back possession, making key passes and loves to go on attacking runs which may make him effective in the current Liverpool side.
Similarly to Illarramendi, passing is a key part of Kovacic’s game as he is an expert at long balls and making key passes, while last season he had a successful passing rate of 87.5%. Kovacic is effective in his defensive duties too but he may not be as experienced as Illarramendi in a defensive role, and the Spaniard may also be a bit more physical than the skillful Croatian.
Either player would be a quality addition to the current Liverpool side as they both have plenty to offer, but comment below and let us know which midfielder you think Liverpool should attempt to sign?