Sam McGuire: NO SURPRISE if Klopp's strangest signing Luis Diaz is shown the door

There’s been a lot of focus on Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez over recent weeks. 

Salah, a three-time Premier League Golden Boot winner, has looked a little rusty after returning from injury. There are moments in matches and he’s still contributing in the final third, but he’s not looked close to the fearsome player we’ve all gotten used to over the years.

There’s no shame in admitting that either, he would probably acknowledge that himself.

He was front and centre of the online discussions in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw against West Ham following a touchline argument with Jurgen Klopp. In truth, it was much ado about nothing, but the media was always going to sensationalise it.

In many ways, it has been the same with Darwin.

His performances haven’t been great and he’s lost his place in the starting XI to Cody Gakpo. He continues to frustrate with missed chances and countless offsides. There’s even been talk that he could depart this summer and his recent social media activity further fanned those flames of uncertainty.

With all of this going on, others have gone a little under the radar.

One such player to fall into this category is Luis Diaz.

Luis Diaz at a Liverpool crossroads

The Colombia international is at a crossroads in his Liverpool career.

He should be due a new contract at Anfield having made a place in the starting XI his own and his agent is likely angling for one with his recent media games.

But the links elsewhere could well be genuine. After all, Saudi clubs held an interest in the former Porto man last summer while both Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona are reportedly in the market for a wide player this year.

Diaz could well depart if a decent offer arrives. Would it even be that much of a blow if he was to leave Anfield? 

Every other attacker for Liverpool has pros and cons.

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Yes, Salah is 32 next month and certain metrics do appear to be on the wane, but he’s still a goalscorer and a creator. Actually, he’s not a goalscorer, he’s the goalscorer. He leads the way for goals and assists this term.

Darwin, as divisive as he is, contributes in the final third. Only Salah has more goal involvements than he does while he leads the way when looking at Non-Penalty Expected Goals and Expected Assists on a per 90 basis since joining the club. Should he have more? Yes. Is he doing enough though? Also yes.

The frustration with Diogo Jota stems from his injury record. The Portuguese forward, when fit, almost guarantees goals. He’s in double digits this season in the Premier League despite appearing in just 1,151 minutes.

That sentence alone sums him up as a Liverpool player.

Luis Diaz, Liverpool

Football - FA Premier League - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool s Luis Diaz celebrates his side s first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LONDON Emirates Stadium GREATER LONDON ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2024-02-04-Arsenal_Liverpool-40

He’s a goalscorer but he’s barely been available. In just one of his four seasons with the Reds has the former Wolves winger appeared in over 1,200 Premier League minutes.

Cody Gakpo is a bit of an enigma. Nobody knows his best role and he’s been used across the midfield and attack this term. His versatility is a blessing and a curse. Despite his struggles, and that is a phrase used loosely here, he’s been able to contribute. He’s chipped in with 13 goal involvements in the English top-flight in just 1,565 minutes.

Now we come to Diaz. No Liverpool attacker has appeared in more Premier League minutes this term (2,575). He’s been key for Jurgen Klopp during certain periods in which the Reds looked down to their bare bones.

Diaz numbers are disappointing

You could even make an argument that he’s been overplayed at times and you’d maybe have a point. But his output for a Liverpool attacker is disappointing.

He’s level with Gakpo for goal involvements (eight goals and five assists) despite playing 1,000 minutes more.

The Colombian is averaging a goal or an assist every 198 minutes in the Premier League. For context, Darwin comes in at 106 minutes, Gakpo and Jota are averaging a goal involvement every 88 minutes and Salah is averaging a final third contribution every 87 minutes.

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Luis Diaz Liverpool

His ball-carrying metrics have dropped since the move from Porto too. While Diaz has moments, like that mazy run against Manchester City, they are few and far between and rarely come to anything of note.

He ranks eighth in the Liverpool team for Expected Assists per 90 (0.16) and he’s created just five big chances this season for the Reds, a figure that five players can better despite all appearing in fewer minutes.

He’s missed 12 big chances, the third highest after Darwin and Salah, while he’s currently underperforming his Expected Goals by 3.4

So, he’s not a reliable goal threat and he’s not really a creator. He had two opportunities to play Salah in during the 3-3 draw with Aston Villa on Monday night and he fluffed his lines on both occasions.

Why it would be no surprise to see Diaz leave

This isn’t to say there are no pros to Diaz’s game or that he has no redeeming qualities to his play, but it is difficult to quantify them. Every other attacker can point to their output, but he can't.

The frustrating thing about this is that the 27-year-old, with the exception of the hot streak prior to joining the Reds, was exactly like this at Porto.

He was just more of an old-school winger because of their system, so his dribble and ball-carrying numbers were better. But he was always a little erratic in the final third and he was never a real, sustainable goal threat.

He is the strangest signing of the Klopp era and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was the first player of the post-Klopp era to leave.

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