Key things to know about Liverpool target Maxence Lacroix

With Joel Matip having perhaps played his final game for Liverpool, the Reds have been quickly linked to a number of defensive transfer targets who can fill the void.

The 32-year-old suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Liverpool's victory over Fulham and, with his contract expiring at the end of the campaign, his time time at Anfield may come to an underwhelming end.

While Jurgen Klopp has hinted that Matip still has a future at the club, it hasn't stopped links emerging with centre-backs that can replace the former Schalke man.

One name that has been touted in the past 24 hours is Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix, initially reported by the Mirror's John Cross.

The Bundesliga centre-back could be available for £25m+ in January, but just who is 23-year-old Lacroix?

WHO IS MAXENCE LACROIX?

Born in France in 2000, Lacroix quickly climbed the ranks during his youth career, eventually ending up at Sochaux. After playing in their second team for several years, he was promoted to the senior squad in 2018 at just 18-years-old.

The 6'3 centre-back featured 28 times for Sochaux before making a €5m switch to Wolfsburg in 2020. Lacroix immediately made a strong impression in Germany, slotting straight into the first team at the Volkswagen Arena.

Since his arrival, the French defender has made 113 appearances for Wolfsburg, a pretty impressive top-flight tally at just 23-years-old.

While he hasn't yet made a senior appearance for France, he's represented his nation readily at youth level, most recently featuring for the U20 side.

Lacroix captained Wolfsburg for the first time in November during a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen and is one of the club's two vice-captains to Maximilian Arnold.

WHAT ARE HIS STRENGTHS?

One of Lacroix's key strengths is his speed, something that would prove invaluable at Anfield. The Frenchman is rapid and recorded the fourth-fastest sprint (22.2mph) of any Bundesliga player during the 2020/21 season - two of those ahead of him being Erling Haaland and Alphonso Davies.

The Wolfsburg centre-back is a strong athlete, teaming this physique with his pace to combat opposition attackers.

When asked about his own strengths, Lacroix replied: "I'm quite athletic, I'm quick, I'm strong. I'm not bad with the ball at my feet, I'm able to do everything the coach asks of me. That’s the most important thing."

Compared to other centre-backs in the Bundesliga last season, Lacroix proved his technical prowess.

Lacroix ranked in the top 18% of players for his passing accuracy (86.9%), particularly excelling with his medium (93.8%) and long (65.3%) passing accuracy.

He also sat in the top 20% of Bundesliga central defenders for switches (0.61) and progressive passes (4.59) per match last season, while averaging 3.93 passes into the final third.

The right-footed defender is clearly capable with the ball at his feet, while perhaps not spectacular, and appears capable of playing Virgil van Dijk-esque switches to the left and right flank.

Alongside Micky van de Ven and Co. last season, Lacroix was part of the equal-second best defensive record in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg kept 12 clean sheets from 34 games - Lacroix featuring in nine of those shutouts.

WHAT ARE HIS WEAKNESSES?

One obvious weakness is Lacroix's disciplinary record, ranking in the top 11% of Bundesliga centre-backs for yellow cards (0.06) per 90. The 23-year-old has also seen red four times during his 113 Wolfsburg appearances - an average of on every 28 matches.

Another aspect of his game that requires improvement is his ability in the air, something that would become particularly important in the Premier League.

So far this season, Lacroix, despite being 6'3, has won just 48.3% of his aerial duels. That puts him in the bottom ten percent of Bundesliga centre-backs.

By contrast, Matip has won 73.7% of his aerial duels in the Premier League, while Van Dijk has a 77.8% success rate in the air.

If Liverpool were to sign Lacroix, he would have to work on his aerial ability, that's for sure.

VERDICT

A player who the Bundesliga's official website has compared to Rio Ferdinand in playstyle, Lacroix is certainly a promising talent. At his age and with his athletic presence, he could certainly be a useful addition to Liverpool's squad.

With less than two years left on his contract, the Reds might fancy their chances of signing the Frenchman at a discount price, with £25-35m not a bad fee for a player of such potential and experience.

However, whether Klopp will be afforded another centre-back addition in January remains to be seen, with a more tried and tested Premier League option such as Marc Guehi perhaps the ideal solution.

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