Sporting Lisbon midfielder Idrissa Doumbia caught the eye of Liverpool staff during the club’s recent friendly game, according to reports in Portugal.
The 21-year-old only signed for his current club from Russian side Akhmat Grozny in January and reportedly has a €60m (£54m) release clause. So, what do we know about the Ivorian?
Doumbia generally plays as a holding midfielder. With Jordan Henderson having been moved further forward by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, it’s likely that the Sporting player is being considered as a potential backup to Fabinho.
So how does the Ivorian international compare to the Brazilian in terms of his defensive qualities? If we look at his tackling, there is no comparison with Doumbia averaging just 0.13 tackles per 90 minutes, according to Wyscout.
It is a stark contrast to Fabinho who makes 0.89 tackles per 90, with a success rate of 27%. Things are different in terms of interceptions, with Doumbia (4.97) averaging slightly more per game than the Liverpool star.
The Ivorian is also lagging behind in terms of aerial presence with Fabinho winning 59% of his headers last season, which is 10% more than Doumbia who actually averages fewer aerial duels per 90 as well.
If we switch our attention to matters on the ball, both players have their strengths and weaknesses. Fabinho is more involved in the game than Doumbia for the most part, having averaged 15 more passes per 90 minutes last campaign for Liverpool.
That doesn’t tell a whole lot, however, as the Reds do generally dominate possession and have more of the ball. When it comes to key passes and through balls, though, there is a slightly different outcome.
Doumbia averaged more key passes (0.21 per 90) than Fabinho (0.1) and Jordan Henderson (0.18) managed last season, but he lagged behind both James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum on this metric.
When it comes to through balls, it’s Fabinho who comes out on top with 1.17 per game, which is more than Wijnaldum (0.49) and a lot more than Doumbia (just 0.31).
Jurgen Klopp has specific requirements for the holding midfield role. It is a critical area for both the Reds’ defensive organisation and the base for the team’s attacking play.
Doumbia clearly does have some very good attributes that could allow him to develop into a very good player in that position over time, but he’s certainly not close to Fabinho’s level yet.