Liverpool may have found their next Trent Alexander-Arnold in Yukinari Sugawara. The Reds like the look of the AZ Alkmaar player.
We reported in an exclusive back in the summer that Liverpool held an interest in AZ Alkmaar right-back Yukinari Sugawara. Of course, the Reds never made a proper move on it but the Japan international is a player they have their eyes on.
It's interest that looks particularly notable right now after Statsbomb posted some of their data about Sugawara that compared him to Liverpool's current right-back, Trent Alexander-Arnold. In their eyes, he's the closest under-23 player in Europe to the Scouser.
The most similar under-23 player to Trent Alexander-Arnold in 2023/24?
— StatsBomb (@StatsBomb) January 10, 2024
If Liverpool do want adequate backup to Alexander-Arnold, then, Sugawara is about as good as it gets. This isn't a role that's particularly easy to play, after all, as the Reds use their right-back in a very unique way.
Few clubs can claim their most creative outlet to be a full-back. Alexander-Arnold has been that, though - and done it at the absolute highest level.
Statsbomb's data shows that when it comes to progressing the ball and creating xG, the two have a very similar output. Of course, it should be noted that Alexander-Arnold does this in a tougher league.
Still, Sugawara is still only 23 and shows tremendous promise. A jaunt over to Fbref shows more impressive data - 2nd in the Eredivisie for crosses into the box, 3rd for expected assist, 5th for chances created.
This is all especially notable as Alexander-Arnold is becoming more and more like a midfielder. Liverpool may want to use him there as a first-choice at some point, but the issue has always been that there's no adequate replacement at right-back.
The likes fo Conor Bradley could perhaps become that but if Liverpool want what it arguably the quickest fix for that problem, they should keep looking at Sugawara. He may be the trick to getting Alexander-Arnold into midfield.