Sam McGuire: £75m can go a long way - why it could be time to sacrifice Luis Diaz

Liverpool’s long to-do list could be about to get a little bit longer.  If reports are to be believed, there’s a decision to be made over the future of Luis Diaz.

Barcelona had been tentatively linked with the Colombian winger but their financial situation likely rules them out of a move for the Liverpool No.7. However, Paris Saint-Germain are now believed to be interested in the 27-year-old. 

The Reds reportedly value Diaz at £75million and the idea of a new contract is supposedly being pushed by the player’s agent, Raul Costa. Coincidentally, Costa also represents the man tipped to succeed Jurgen Klopp this summer, Ruben Amorim. 

Links with a move away could be agent-driven in a bid to get Diaz an improved deal. After all, he’s still on the terms he agreed to following his January 2022 move from Porto.

But the club have more pressing priorities - namely figuring out what is going on with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah as the trio head into the final 12 months of their deals. By comparison, come the end of the current campaign, Diaz will still have three years left on his contract. 

Now would usually be the time in which talks would start ahead of the player being rewarded. And this is what makes the Diaz situation such an interesting one. 

Diaz has impressed since the move to Merseyside but he’s not exactly made himself undroppable, has he? He was a breath of fresh air when he arrived, giving Liverpool new impetus in the final third and being an outlet on that left-hand side in place of Sadio Mane. 

But his 2022-23 campaign was marred by a knee injury while his 2023-24 season has been a little erratic. 

Liverpool need more than Diaz is giving

The 47-cap international has more Premier League minutes than Salah, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota but he’s scored fewer goals. He trails Darwin and Salah in assists too.

His output is fine, with eight goals and four assists, but Liverpool need more than that from their attackers, don’t they? 

They have come to expect a lot from their wide forwards having been spoilt with Mane and Salah over the years. In a recent interview with Gary Neville on the Overlap, Trent Alexander-Arnold heaped praise on Mane, saying: “He's the one player that I’ve played with that I’ve always thought I’m thankful I never had to play against him.

"He was a perfect attacker, he had everything. As an athlete, he was probably similar to [Cristiano] Ronaldo I would say. He had the jump, he could get up. He was fast, he could finish [with] both feet, he was just a threat at all times for everyone.”

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Luis Diaz Liverpool

And while he was a little erratic himself in front of goal, he was a consistent scorer for the Reds. The former No.10 averaged 15 goals per season in the league for the Reds and scored 16 or more in three of his six campaigns on Merseyside. He finished with 20 or more in all competitions in four of those seasons. 

By comparison, Diaz’s haul of eight this season is his most for Liverpool. Granted, this is his first real campaign with regular minutes. This is the first season we’ve been able to truly look at his underlying numbers. This term, the No.7 has an expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes average of 0.44 - what you expect from a Liverpool attacker in a Klopp system - but he’s averaging just 0.34 goals per game. 

Diaz was never a 'Mane regen'

In truth, Diaz has never been the sort of forward Liverpool would’ve previously targeted. The likes of Jota, Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane all had sustainable underlying numbers that could be scaled in a better system. They had a history of being goalscorers even if their finishing was a little sketchy. 

Diaz never had that. He finished with six league goals for Porto in each of his first two seasons with the club. He then exploded in his final half-season in Portugal, scoring 14 goals in 18 appearances. This return skewed perceptions and expectations. 

Sadio Mane Jurgen Klopp

Sadio Mane Jurgen Klopp

Fans thought they were getting a Mane regen. The numbers suggested he was having a purple patch for Porto at the time and there were no guarantees he would be able to post similar ones for Liverpool. 

While he’s averaging a similar number of shots to that final campaign with the Portuguese giants, he isn’t anywhere near as threatening and his finishing just isn’t reliable. He’s been responsible for some big misses this season. He isn’t the only one though. 

Richard Hughes likes other kinds of attackers

When Michael Edwards was here the first time around, he had a particular profile for attackers. We can expect to see this return now he’s back involved. Especially when Richard Hughes, the man hand-picked by Edwards to be the club’s sporting director, favoured a similar type of profile during his final two summers with Bournemouth

These aren’t Liverpool-level signings, but Hughes brought in Dango Ouattara, Antoine Semenyo, Justin Kluivert and Luis Sinisterra. The quartet all shared traits in the sense their underlying metrics (xG) tallied with their actual output over large sample sizes.

They had shown themselves not just to be reliable goal threats but also reliable goalscorers, relatively speaking. The same pattern was there with Salah, Mane, Jota and Firmino.

All of this, combined with Diaz’s contract situation, could see the club decide to sacrifice him this summer to raise funds, especially if interest in him is legitimate, and bring in a better-suited attacker to complement those already at the club. In the hands of Edwards and Hughes, £75million could go a long way.

Share This Article