Premier League • England

Ruben Amorim: Three positions Liverpool need to strengthen for their potential next manager

Ruben Amorim, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Mohammed Kudus and Riccardo Calafiori

We've picked out some potential targets who'd suit a new-look Liverpool under Amorim

Since Xabi Alonso ruled himself out of the Liverpool job by categorically stating he’s staying at Bayer Leverkusen, Ruben Amorim has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Jurgen Klopp.

Sources are now telling TEAMtalk that Sporting boss Amorim has reached a verbal agreement over a three-year deal to become the next Liverpool manager.

During his time at Sporting, Amorim has signed some players to play very specific roles in the team. So, which positions would he need to sign to fulfil these roles in the team that they don’t currently have?

Here, we take a look at three specific roles Liverpool would need to reinforce for the squad to be shaped in Amorim’s image, and suggest two options they could target for each of those positions.

End to end LWB

Amorim loves to play wingbacks on both sides who will provide the width for the team and cover a lot of ground, bombing forward to create a front five in possession and tracking back to form a back five in their rest defence. Players such as Matheus Reis and Geny Catamo are very progressive passers that love to whip in several crosses a game.

On top of that they’re technical on the ball and will combine well with the players down their side. Reis will combine with the LCB, LCM and LW, Catamo will combine with the RCB, RCM and RW. They’ll create triangles down the wing to escape the press.

At Liverpool, they have Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas right now. Robertson (30) is at the latter stages of his successful career and Tsimikas is good, but they’d need better as the starting LWB.

Option One: Rayan Ait-Nouri – Wolves

Ait-Nouri has been a consistent performer for Wolves for a while now as one of their most reliable players. As a LB or LWB, he’s played a variety of different roles, either bombing up the wing creating width and whipping in crosses or inferring into midfield carrying the ball into central areas.

Ait-Nouri is an all-rounder LB, but also good defensively. As a midfield option he’d offer the technical ability to combine with those around him whilst also having the quality to carry the ball and take on players down the line. Add to this the fact that he’s Premier League proven, Ait-Nouri would fit right in.

Indeed, sources told TEAMtalk in March that the departing Klopp has recommended Ait-Nouri to Liverpool as a signing his successor would benefit from.

Option Two: Milos Kerkez – Bournemouth

Milos Kerkez joining compatriot Dominik Szoboszlai would be a great signing for Liverpool. Kerkez offers the all-round ability to play this role.

Previously at AZ Alkmaar he would bomb up the pitch and be an attacking threat either crossing or final passing or shooting across goal himself. At Bournemouth he’s still got this side to the game but even more he’s inverting into midfield from LB.

Kerkez’s progressive qualities and press resistance adds some quality on the ball that their current LBs don’t have right now. Again, being a Premier League experienced player is also a bonus as he’s now not only played against all the teams in the league but thrived when doing so.

Rayan Ait-Nouri and Milos Kerkez stats

Progressive CB

Amorim plays CBs who carry the ball out of defence or pass through the lines but only the RCB and LCB; the CCB will stay deep and central as the last man and spraying long passes. Often, he’ll also play a right-footed CB on the right side and a left-footed CB on the left side because it allows for better passing angles. The CBs’ ball progression abilities are a key part of how Amorim wants to play and with Virgil van Dijk the only CB Liverpool have who’s amazing on the ball they need another.

Right now, Van Dijk plays LCB but for Amorim he’d probably move to RCB and then a left-footed CB would come in. In their squad now they’ve got Van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Jarell Quansah. A few of these are comfortable on the left side but none are left footed. Konate would be the starting CCB playing the role of Sebastian Coates, and with Van Dijk at RCB, they’d just need a LCB.

Option One: Riccardo Calafiori – Bologna

Riccardo Calafiori has been a revelation for Thiago Motta’s Bologna. Pushing up into midfield, being an aggressive front-footed defender and carrying the ball out of defence. What’s striking about Calafiori is how much influence of a game he has. Despite playing at CB he’ll spend most of the game coming into midfield and even pushing into advanced areas playing off the striker.

Calafiori is such an intelligent defender and technically brilliant. Defensively he reads the game so well and is aerially dominant too. Giving Calafiori the licence on the ball that Eduardo Quaresma and/or Goncalo Inacio are given under Amorim is the perfect role for him to get the most out of his ball-carrying and passing ability.

Option Two: David Hancko – Feyenoord

David Hancko is another very progressive CB who’s been an influential figure for Feyenoord for a while. Hancko shows real leadership and takes on responsibility of the game. Last season he was one of the most important players for them as they won the Eredivisie title.

Throughout his time at Feyenoord, Hancko has played LCB and LB but in both roles, he’s carried the ball out of defence and entered the final third playing combinations with those around him or carrying the ball far, dribbling past several players. Hancko even scores some great goals. Against Utrecht on March 31, he entered the box on the left side of the box and struck the ball into the top far corner. A striker’s finish. Another who when given the licence to roam, really thrives.

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Salah Replacement RW

Amorim tends to play with narrow technical wingers, almost 10s wide but excellent in 1v1 scenarios, such as Pedro Goncalves on the left and Marcus Edwards on the right. Now Liverpool have so many options on the wings already with their current squad. They could play Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota or Cody Gakpo as a left forward/winger and on the right obviously Mohamed Salah or Harvey Elliott.

The issue is that Salah is probably the most likely culprit to leave in the near future, either in the summer or soon. Salah is a club legend so he’ll be near impossible to replace in terms of status, but for the role in the squad they can find great options.

Option One: Mohammed Kudus – West Ham United

Since joining West Ham in the summer from Ajax, Mohammed Kudus has been outstanding. The Ghanaian has adapted to life in the Premier League instantly, looking as if he’s played there his whole career.

With a perfect blend of intelligence, goal threat, work rate, physicality and dynamism, Kudus can play all over. His football IQ makes him adaptable to several roles. But one role which he’s always done well in is as a RW. Kudus has good 1v1 abilities and rides challenges so well when he carries the ball. When he gets the ball, he gets you off your feet with excitement.

With his ball striking ability he’s even a threat cutting in on his left foot from distance. There’s a lot about Kudus which has a star quality that could replace that of Salah’s. In Amorim’s system it would be ideal for him to play as an inside RW because of his creativity and variety of threats. Similar to Goncalves, Kudus is like a #10 playing wide so he offers so much more.

Option Two: Matias Soule – Juventus (On Loan at Frosinone)

Matias Soule is an exceptional talent with so much tenacity off the ball and a match winning quality. At a young age in his first full season at senior level Soule has taken on so much responsibility at Frosinone on loan from Juventus. The Argentine collects the ball and looks to make something happen: taking on players, whipping in crosses, powering shots past the keeper and playing killer final passes. Soule is a difference maker.

In this role as an inside forward it maximises his ability where he can have more influence on the attacking side of the game, press high and recover the ball in the final third and combine with other attackers. Having a runner in behind like Nunez to play with will get the best out of them both and Soule’s quality cutting in to shoot on his left foot should allow for good goal output too. A perfect system fit for Liverpool, Amorim and for Soule.

Here’s how Liverpool could line up:

A potential Liverpool lineup under Ruben Amorim