He's not the new Sergio Ramos, he's better than that - Calafiori is PERFECT for Liverpool

Liverpool don’t have the best track record when it comes to signing Italian players. 

Andrea Dossena had that memorable week in 2009 when he scored against Real Madrid and Manchester United but he failed to succeed John Arne Riise as the club’s starting left-back before returning to Serie A in January 2010. He was even behind Emiliano Insua in the pecking order. 

Alberto Aquilani was picked as the man to replace Xabi Alonso in the heart of the Liverpool midfield. His Anfield career didn’t really get going with injuries depriving the team of his talents. He eventually joined Fiorentina, with the Reds taking a £13 million hit on him. 

Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli, Gabriel Paletta and Daniele Padelli all failed to make an impression with the Reds for various reasons, some beyond their control. 

In truth, it has been slim pickings over the years. What doesn’t help is that Italian players tend to prefer to stay in their homeland. Only three of their 26-man squad for Euro 2024 ply their trade outside of  Serie A and two of them are goalkeepers. The other, Jorginho, is Brazilian by birth. 

The streak of signing Italians who fail to live up to their billing could well come to an end with Riccardo Calafiori though

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Riccardo Calafiori (@richycala)

For starters, the 22-year-old has already shown he’s more than happy to leave Serie A to further his career. He spent a season with FC Basel in the Swiss Super League having left boyhood club AS Roma in search of first-team football. He returned to his native Italy last summer to join Bologna. 

To say that move was a success would be an understatement. 

Calafiori a player transformed last season

Turned into a centre-back by manager Thiago Motta, Calafiori thrived for Bologna as they clinched a Champions League spot. His performances also thrust him into Luciano Spalletti’s Euro 2024 squad and he has started the opening two games, albeit with an unfortunate own goal against Spain on matchday two. 

The Euro 2024 call-up has capped off a remarkable rise over recent years. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Riccardo Calafiori (@richycala)

In October 2018, there had been fears he might not ever play football again. A studs-up challenge in a UEFA Youth League match while playing for Roma annihilated his right knee. 

Per an article written by Goal late last year, all of the ligaments in Calafiori's joint had been ruptured along with his meniscus and articular capsule, with doctors declaring at the time it was an injury that "occurs once every 10 years'' and was more akin to the kind of trauma a motocross rider would suffer from, rather than a footballer. The youngster was told, in no uncertain terms, that the injury was career-threatening.

Riccardo Calafiori - Bologna and Italy

Riccardo Calafiori Italy looks on, UEFA EURO, EM, Europameisterschaft,Fussball 2024 - Group B, Italy vs Albania, BVB Stadium Dortmund, June 15, 2024, Dortmund, Germany.

He missed close to a full year but he did, eventually, return. At the time, he was viewed as a left-back and he found it difficult to break into the Roma first team. He also struggled with a number of different injuries. A loan to Genoa didn’t work out but he then moved to Basel. 

Juventus in the frame for Calafiori

Calafiori is now being courted by some of the best teams in Europe. Juventus were believed to be favourites to land him but the Italian giants aren’t flush with money right now. They’re haggling with Aston Villa for Douglas Luiz and needing to part-exchange players to get that deal over the line. They also need to bring in a new starting goalkeeper as they are losing Wojciech  Szczęsny. That won’t be cheap. 

And Bologna aren’t likely going to be tempted by Juventus’ creative accounting either. The deal to bring him back to Italy included a 40% sell-on fee. They are going to want to make the most of this opportunity and cash in on their prized asset. If a move happens this summer, Calafiori will comfortably eclipse the club’s record sale of £20 million. They could easily fetch double that. 

And Liverpool are likely going to be interested in the left-footed centre-back, even if he was going for £50 million. 

Have you seen his numbers?

Calafiori ticks all Liverpool boxes

He’s used to seeing a lot of the ball, he’s competent, composed and confident in possession. Calafiori can play as a left-sided centre-back in a two or a three. The Bologna man is actually fairly at ease when isolated in wide areas against attackers. He’s no slouch either. Just ticked-boxes galore at the minute, isn’t it? 

The 22-year-old can also play left-back and we know Slot liked to use David Hancko there at times during his time in Rotterdam. So the playing profile aligns with what the Reds are seemingly after if we’re to believe there’s interest in Levi Colwill, Willian Pacho and Piero Hincapie. 

Now, the important one. Can he win aerial duels? Yes. He won 71.4% of them last season and the volume (3.3) isn’t too bad either. He won all three of his aerial duels in Italy’s 2-1 win over Albania. 

Fabio Capello recently likened him to a young Sergio Ramos and the similarities are there in the sense he can play full-back as well as centre-back, but the comparison does Calafiori a disservice.  He’s nowhere near as reckless or rash as the Real Madrid legend. 

Profile wise, he’s close to perfect for Liverpool. 

Share This Article