How would Jamal Musiala fit Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool?

Saying that Jamal Musiala has had quite the career so far would be an understatement.

At 20 years old he is already a four-time Bundesliga winner, a Champions League winner and at 19 he was voted the Germany National Team Player of the Year in 2022.

He is widely regarded as one of the best young players in world football, predicted to finish second in this year’s edition of the Golden Boy award (won in 2014 by then Liverpool player Raheem Sterling), and coming second to Jude Bellingham is nothing to be ashamed of.

Musiala’s career is going from strength to strength.

His floor, and what he currently is, is one of – if not the – main man on one of the best teams in the world. It was him that scored the goal that swung the title to Bavaria on the final day of last season, with an incredible bit of close control and then somehow even more incredible daisy-cutting finish from outside the box…

His ceiling is, as cliché as this may sound, anything that he wants it to be.

Where that ceiling will be found, though, remains to be seen. He is in what appears to be the perfect situation for a young German. Bayern Munich, for all the criticism that the Bundesliga receives, are one of the biggest clubs in world football. They guarantee trophies and a legitimate chance nearly every year at lifting the Champions League trophy come May.

Yet in recent weeks, his future has been questioned. Contract talks with his current club have reportedly stalled, and Liverpool are one of the clubs who have had a long-standing interest in the former Chelsea youth player, as reported in Germany.

With his contract not expiring until 2026, it will take a quite ridiculous (and by ridiculous we’re likely talking club record breaking) fee to bring the Stuttgart-born midfielder to Merseyside. However, if they could bring him in, it would present the opportunity to bring a fully fledged superstar before he’s even close to his ‘prime years’ to the club.

Talent is one thing, but if both the personal and tactical fit of a player doesn’t match with the club they are moving to, then that likely ends in tears. So, what would Musiala offer Liverpool? And more importantly, how would he fit in to Klopp’s side?

Confidence man

The first thing that stands out about Musiala when watching him is the confidence that he displays in everything that he does. Despite his young age he has played over 6,800 minutes for Bayern, starting 36 games last season.

I may be biased here, as it’s personally what I enjoy most about watching him play, but his standout quality is the way he can drive the ball forward and take on players – and following this up by consistently making the correct decision in terms of shot and pass selection, as well as when to release the ball.

We’ll go more into his position later, but Musiala often drops deep into central areas to receive the ball, demanding it off his teammates. From there he will drive forward. Whilst his dribbling style may not be the cleanest – it is incredibly fun to watch. Musiala isn’t tall – and at six foot he isn’t small either – but his slender frame gives him a sort of lanky look on the ball. He can often look clunky and uncoordinated but somehow always manages to get past his man, able to stick out a limb at the last second to deceive an opponent that’s already thinking about what they’re going to do with the ball at their feet.

He attempts 7.09 take-ons per 90 and completes 3.9 of those (which ranks him in the 99th percentile for both attacking midfielders/wingers and midfielders).

His assist against Manchester United earlier this season displayed this in full, picking up the ball facing his own goal before turning, beating four men (with some of that unclean yet effective dribbling) and making the right pass to Serge Gnabry who has an easy finish to make it 2-0.

Effective passer

Musiala is not a particularly high-volume passer (39.07 per 90 ranks him lower than any Liverpool midfielder so far this season, with former teammate Ryan Gravenberch the lowest at 42.5).

He isn’t the sort of passer that is moving the ball from deep areas into the final third, he does that through his ball carrying (although there is potential there, such is the talent he has at his disposal).

What he is, though, is an extremely effective one. He is constantly getting the ball into the penalty area and his chance creation through his passing is through the roof. His 1.53 passes into the penalty area are followed up with 0.24 expected assisted goals per 90 – which ranks him in the 98th percentile for midfielders and 76th percentile for attacking midfielders and wingers.

Musiala is not only a one-man machine in getting the ball into the final third, he’s also an absolute killer when he gets there too.

Goal threat

Oh, and guess what? He scores quite a few goals as well…

16 last season to be exact, to go alongside his 13 assists (which is 29 direct goal involvements at 19 years old).

Above is the shot location of 12 of those 16 goals (the Bundesliga ones, via Understat).

The best thing about Musiala’s goalscoring is that he’s a threat in so many ways. He can often display the sort of in the box movement that new teammate Harry Kane would be proud of and then the next moment he’ll be smashing one in from 25 yards. This sort of variance will mean he’s a consistent threat throughout his career.

He has also outperformed his expected goals in every season in senior football, and while this may level out at some point it does give some indication that he will make the most of the shooting opportunities he gets.

Defensive side

The German isn’t the most adept defensively, but he isn’t a slouch either. While he’s never going to win many tackles or compete in many duels, he does read the game well and applies himself well to be part of the defensive unit.

He’s both a willing and smart presser (which is no surprise given Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel have coached him). He knows where to position himself to benefit the team, although is compensated by having the very good defensively Joshua Kimmich behind or alongside him.

Liverpool fit

So, we’ve established that Jamal Musiala is a very, very, very good footballer – but would he fit in a Jürgen Klopp Liverpool side?

The cop out answer is yes, purely because Musiala is not only on track to be one of the very best players in the sport, but also one that is extremely versatile. His 'main' position could be defined as number 10, playing off the striker. That’s where he has spent the majority of game time for his club, playing that role in a 4-2-3-1. That allows him to drift into different spaces, able to drop into the midfield to form a three-man midfield, rotate into wide areas and become a winger and even push up and be the focal point of the attack.

Liverpool don’t tend to play with a lone 10, instead with two 'advanced eights' – usually Curtis Jones and Dominik Szoboszlai – in front of the inverting Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alexis Mac Allister (who would, in an ideal world, also be one of the more advanced midfielders) who form a double pivot.

While I don’t doubt Musiala would slot right in (and be an improvement) to one of those more advanced roles, there is the question of whether signing someone that is likely going to cost £100m or more in a summer where you may need to sort out the right-wing position and rebuild the defence is the smartest move.

Musiala can play in wide areas, though he tends to favour drifting out towards the left-hand side – an area where Liverpool already have quite a lot of depth. He can also play deeper as part of a double pivot but doing this alongside an experienced defensive midfielder (or at least a more naturalised one) in Joshua Kimmich is different to being asked to be the primary defender alongside the free roaming Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

What both roles have in common is that while Musiala would probably look great in doing both, it also likely limits his full potential.

So, no, there’s probably not a defined role at Liverpool in their current form for Jamal Musiala. Yet the truth is that he is the sort of talent that if you can get him for a fee that you can afford then you do it and figure the rest out later.

Salah is going to be gone sooner rather than later, and Musiala is the talent that the club can build a team around for the next 10-15 years. I don’t think it’ll be easy to get him out of Bavaria, in fact, I expect it to be near enough impossible – but if you can, then yes, absolutely do it.

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