Gary Neville admitted to feeling ‘depressed’ while watching Liverpool on Tuesday night. It is perhaps no surprise considering his allegiance to Manchester United, who lost 4-0 at Anfield.
Despite that, the result wasn’t described as the reason behind his unhappiness. Instead, the Sky Sports pundit blamed Luis Diaz and his immediate success since moving to English shores.
The Colombian forward joined from FC Porto in January yet already, he’s established himself as a force on Merseyside. He scored the opening goal against United and around an hour later, he registered an assist.
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“Honestly, it’s utterly depressing,” said Neville. “Oh my God, what a player he is. His tenacity, his skill, his pace, his fight, his spirit, everything. He’s cost not a lot again. They have found another one.”
Liverpool continue to pick up talented players – particularly forwards – from overlooked locations and they seamlessly fit into Jurgen Klopp’s plans without any problems. The Reds make the transfer market look easy.
It is different to what Neville has witnessed at Old Trafford. His beloved club have spent extortionate amounts on big-name players over the years, only for them to struggle once being deployed on the pitch.
Despite landing the signatures of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane last summer, Liverpool’s historic rivals seem to have gotten worse this season.
This week, Ralf Rangnick expressed that United could end up investing in as many as 10 new players this summer, which epitomizes their ongoing problems when it comes to squad planning.
Liverpool, by contrast, managed to pick up a foreign talent – who doesn’t even speak the same language as his head coach – in the middle of the season before allowing him to thrive once taking to the field.
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One of the primary reasons behind Diaz’s form is Klopp’s system. The German coach has favored 4-3-3 since his appointment in 2015, and he has allowed the club to identify exactly what they need when recruiting players.
The well-established system is a haven for wide forwards who are inclined to cut inside and score goals, and Diaz is exactly that, having found the net 14 times in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season before leaving in the winter months.
Crucially, Porto have also favored wide forwards this season. Sergio Conceicao has used 4-3-3 at times, as well as 4-4-2, with Diaz simply able to play as normal upon his arrival at Liverpool, and without having to learn too many new movements.
Some years ago, Fabinho was slowly introduced into the fray after signing from AS Monaco. His situation was different, as the Brazilian was forced to learn an entirely new position having operated as part of a midfield two in France.
Diaz hasn’t had to undergo any such training. Instead, Klopp has allowed him to play largely based on instinct and that hasn’t been problematic due to the fact he’s a natural fit for Liverpool’s 4-3-3. He’s fast, technical, direct and intense, and he ticks all of the necessary boxes.
“At the start, I think it was more about him telling me what I’ve been doing up to now,” said Diaz when asked about how Klopp has managed him so far. “He was trying to put across to me that it was about doing what I’ve been used to. He wanted me to know that I should just try to keep on doing more of the same.”
Liverpool don’t just target good players, they chase players who will have a specific role in the squad and within the confines of the the go-to system. New additions can be taught new things – like Fabinho – but those who don’t have to change too much can begin contributing immediately.
In less than three months at the club, the 25 year-old attacker has already portrayed himself as an elite threat. Imagine what he’ll be doing once his feet are under the table.