Liverpool MUST make Teun Koopmeiners Arne Slot's transformative first signing

Teun Koopmeiners has been a key part of the unprecedented success of Atalanta this season. The Dutch playmaker was instrumental in helping his side to fourth place and Europa League glory.

His standout performances have also made him a starter for the Netherlands national team as they head into Euro 2024 next month.

With the arrival of Arne Slot, reports linking him to Liverpool have intensified ahead of the summer. Koopmeiners is entering his prime so Liverpool will be getting a player who is about to reach the peak of his powers. 

Let’s take a look at his history with Slot and if it can be a successful reunion.

Slot was transformational for Koopmeiners

The season before Slot took over at AZ Alkmaar, Koopmeiners played most of his minutes as a centre back.

When Slot arrived, he was impressed with Koopmeiners’ leadership, exceptional technique, and on-ball ability. He promptly gave him the captain's armband and switched his role to deploy him as one of the two central midfielders.

The 26-year-old thrived under the new responsibility. In his first season under the new manager, the Dutch international gave AZ more control in midfield and orchestrated their build-up play.

Arne Slot Tactics

He also made more tackles, interceptions, and recoveries on a per 90 basis, and was instrumental in leading their press.

More interestingly, the left-footed midfielder was given more freedom to contribute in attack. His Expected Goals (xG) figure shot up from 0.15 to 0.37 per 90 as he started registering more touches in the attacking third and getting into more threatening positions.

This unearthed his creative and goal-scoring potential, and his goal contributions almost doubled to 0.53 per 90.

At the end of the season, AZ were joint-top of the league before it was called off due to Covid-19. In their 58 games together, Koopmeiners scored 21 goals and provided seven assists.

In a way, Slot set the building blocks for the player we see today.

Jack-of-all-trades midfielder

Since his move to Atalanta, Koopmeiners has continued to evolve as a player, becoming a multi-role midfielder for the Bergamo outfit.

Now in his third season in Serie A, his versatility makes him a key component in Gian Piero Gasperini’s 3-5-2 system, where he operates as the more attacking midfielder.

The creative side of his game has flourished, and he ranks first in the squad for chances created and Expected Assists (xA). His improvement in ball striking and ability to consistently crash the box has seen him score double-digit goals in each of the last two seasons.

Teun Koopmeiners with Atalanta after winning the UEFA Europa League.

Dublin, Ireland, 22nd May 2024. Teun Koopmeiners, Mitchel Bakker, Marten De Roon and Hans Hateboer of Atalanta celebrate with the trophy following the 3-0 victory in the UEFA Europa League match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. SPI-3164-0042

Koopmeiners excels at reading the game, and has the engine to cover every blade of grass to cut out opposition passes. His aggressive positioning helped dismantle the unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final.

There is little doubt that his skill set would be a valuable addition to Liverpool’s midfield.

Can Slot get the best out of him again?

With a new recruitment team in place, it is still unclear how the Liverpool squad will change over the summer and how Slot will adapt his tactics.

The Dutchman's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation deploys an attacking midfielder playing ahead of a double pivot of central midfielders.

Koopmeiners has flourished in the advanced role just behind the striker, but he also has the versatility to play in deeper midfield positions. His athleticism and intelligence can help him seamlessly adapt to the pace of the Premier League.

He is also well aware of the high-intensity pressing game that the manager likes to play. Reuniting with someone who understands this system will give Slot a head start as he transitions the club into the post-Klopp era.

There is a possibility that Slot will require him to change his role again, but his track record of learning and adapting to multiple roles in different leagues will give him every chance of being successful with the Reds.

Liverpool are sure to face competition in the race to sign Koopmeiners, but beating Juventus and bringing him to Anfield could help kickstart the Slot era.

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