Jamie Carragher reckons the perception of Liverpool has changed thanks in large part to Luis Diaz doing something no one else could.
Liverpool accelerated their transfer plans in January when Tottenham began to ramp up their pursuit of Luis Diaz. The Colombian had been on Liverpool’s radar for some time, and their recruitment team weren’t prepared to let the explosive winger slip through their fingers.
Indeed, the Reds acted quickly to secure an agreement with FC Porto worth an initial £37.5m.
That forced Tottenham into exploring alternative options, with Dejan Kulusevski the man they turned to. And according to former Liverpool left-back Stephen Warnock, Tottenham won’t care one bit about missing out on Diaz.
Regardless, Liverpool fans have loved the impact their new signing has made. He has fitted in seamlessly into Jurgen Klopp’s system with the German even admitting his shock at how quickly Diaz has adapted.
His crucial late goal against Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final clash gave Liverpool a handy two-goal advantage heading to Anfield.
That gave Jurgen Klopp breathing room to rest seven ahead of the second leg, and that decision could bear fruit in the FA Cup on Saturday against Man City.
Diaz operates primarily on the left wing, a position Sadio Mane has held all to himself since arriving in 2016.
Luis Diaz prompts Mane positional change
However, the Colombian is putting intense pressure on Mane’s position with the Senegalese often being deployed centrally to accommodate Diaz in recent months.
Indeed, over the last eight league matches, Mane has started in his customary left wing position on just two occasions.
And speaking to CBS Sports, Reds legend Carragher hailed Diaz for doing something no player has been able to do to Mane yet.
In doing so, Carragher claimed Diaz has almost single-handedly changed the perception of Liverpool. The ex-centre-half reckons most outsiders have now signed up to the narrative that Liverpool’s squad depth is great thanks in large part to Diaz.
“He’s come in and he is the first person who has ever put Sadio Mane, in the last four or five years, under real pressure for his position,” Carragher said of Luis Diaz (via the Liverpool Echo).
“Sadio Mane has now, at times, moved to centre-forward because of the pressure from Diaz in that position.
“He has been a revelation since he has come in. He really has.
“It feels like to me that he has transformed Liverpool, where people are now looking at their squad and are saying ‘they have a great squad’. You have seen the goals he has scored already and how brave he has been.”
Diaz may yet force Mane into a central position once again at Wembley on Saturday. Diogo Jota will face a late fitness check after picking up a knock against Benfica.
If the Portuguese is unfit to start, the likely scenario would see Diaz play wide left with Mane through the middle.